Sri Lanka sports minister denies night club visit caused team's T20 WC exit

24 June,2024 08:05 PM IST |  New York  |  mid-day online correspondent

Sri Lanka could not progress to the Super 8s stage, finishing third in Group D behind South Africa and Bangladesh, who made the grade

Sri Lanka`s Kusal Mendis runs during the ICC men`s Twenty20 World Cup 2024 group D cricket match between Sri Lanka and the Netherlands (Pic: AFP)

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Sri Lankan Sports Minister Harin Fernando on Monday challenged the critics to prove that the alleged night club visit had caused the cricket team's premature exit in the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024 in the Americas.

Sri Lanka could not progress to the Super 8s stage, finishing third in Group D behind South Africa and Bangladesh, who made the grade.

"I challenged them (critics) to prove it, and I will resign if they can prove it," Fernando said referring to a comment reportedly made by his predecessor.

It has been alleged that the team was late for a practice session due to their late night-out.

Fernando had taken over the ministry in November 2023 from Roshan Ranasinghe, who was removed from the post by president Ranil Wickremesinghe following his action to sack the Sri Lanka Cricket management and appoint an interim committee.

The International Cricket Council had subsequently suspend Sri Lanka's membership due to government interference.

Fernando said all the facilities were provided by the cricket governing body to the players.

Sri Lanka, who were champions in 2014, lost in the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024 to South Africa and Bangladesh, while their game against Nepal was washed out. They only registered a win against the Netherlands.

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In the recent encounter against Netherlands, the side defeated the latter by 83 runs at the Daren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia.

Opener Kusal Mendis and middle-order batsman Charith Asalanka posted identical scores of 46 to set the pace for the 2014 champions in a total of 201 for six, the first 200-plus total ever posted at this ground in a T20 International. With their hopes of Super Eight qualification rapidly disappearing as Bangladesh closed in on victory in a low-scoring encounter unfolding at the same time in St Vincent, the Dutch faded after a bright start in being dismissed for 118 off 16.4 overs in reply.

Captain Scott Edwards and opener Michael Levitt contributed joint-topscores of 31 but Sri Lanka's varied and talented attack was too good for the Netherlands line-up, pacer Nuwan Thushara leading the way with three for 24.

Mendis' effort came off 29 balls (five fours) while Asalanka, following in his wake, occupied eight balls fewer courtesy of one four and five sixes, most of them boosted by a strong crosswind at the venue on the northern tip of the island. Logan van Beek, grandson of the late former West Indies and New Zealand wicketkeeper/batsman Simpson "Sammy" Guillen, was the leading wicket-taker with victims off successive balls in his third over although his four overs cost 45 runs.

(With inputs from agencies)

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