Daily Archives: February 13, 2015

In form NZ, experienced SL kick World Cup off


Players from two teams will heave a collective sigh of relief when the first ball is sent down at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Saturday (February 14). New Zealand, one of the home teams in this tournament, have never had as much expectation on their shoulders, and, Sri Lanka, who have been in this neck of the woods since December, can’t wait for the real action to begin.

In many tournaments, this would not exactly have been a marquee match-up. But, in this one, it could serve a very early pointer as to what to expect from a group stage that all captains are describing as being wide open. New Zealand have every single element they want in place and after a bit of fine-tuning are purring along.

In terms of obvious weaknesses or gaps to cover, New Zealand have none. Their batting is not merely highly competent, it has the potential to be genuinely explosive. If Kane Williamson, touted to eventually become the greatest batsman New Zealand has produced, is the backbone, and Martin Guptill the X-factor at the top of the order, there is plenty more to follow. If a base has been built, there is no better man to collar the bowling than Brendon McCullum, whose form has been nothing short of spectacular. And then there is Ross Taylor, who can either build or destroy, depending on what the situation demands.

If the batting has all bases covered, New Zealand’s bowling is the envy of most other teams. The attack has pace, skill, swing and seam, is young and energetic. Trent Boult and Tim Southee have consistently asked questions, and with the forecast for Saturday not being the brightest – light morning rain and temperatures in the region of 15 degrees Celsius are predicted – the swing and seam merchants could be expected to play a big role.

If the atmospheric conditions suit the home team’s strengths rather well, it also allows teams with lesser pace attacks to dream a little. For Sri Lanka, Lasith Malinga, especially when fully fit, is the ace finisher, but the likes of Nuwan Kulasekara, accurate and always trying his hardest, could be a handful if there is exaggerated movement.

Sri Lanka’s greatest strength lies, however, in the three deeply experienced batsmen they have at the top of the order. To have Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in the mix gives the team a cushion and kind of quiet confidence that no other international outfit can boast at the moment. Over the years, it has been teams that have had established, experienced, settled batting orders that have been the mightiest forces in the World Cup. Take Allan Border’s Australians in 1987, Imran Khan’s Pakistan in 1992, Arjuna Ranatunga’s Sri Lanka in 1996, and look beyond. You will find instance after instance of this experienced batting line-up succeeding consistently.

When the weather holds, there will be some excellent times for batting, with pitches in New Zealand and Australia expected to be firm and true. At the Hagley Oval, the ball has carried beautifully through to the keeper and though the boundaries are far from short, there is excellent value for shots played thanks to a fast outfield. These are kind of batting conditions teams from the subcontinent, who like to score a large percentage of their runs in boundaries, thrive in. Of course, if it’s overcast or drizzling, that changes the picture considerably.

The toss will play a bit of a role if the teams arrive at the ground for the 11am start with rain in the air. No team particularly likes to have to factor in the chance of a curtailment and the effect of Duckworth-Lewis, but, should this happen, neither team will mind chasing.
Either way, rain or shine, Christchurch has waited for this moment for a while now, and it cannot come too soon for Sri Lanka and New Zealand. It’s not merely a question of getting the points that will help them progress to the next round, it’s a chance to set down a marker, to show themselves and the world what is possible in this tournament.

Teams: (likely)

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum (capt), Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott, Luke Ronchi (wk), Corey Anderson, Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Trent Boult.

Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews (capt), Dimuth Karunaratne/Dinesh Chandimal, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Lasith Malinga

World Cup 2015

Sri Lanka appeals to UN to delay its report on war crimes, assures internal probe


A file picture of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. Asserting that the new government will carry out an internal probe into alleged war crimes committed towards the end of its nearly three decades-long civil war, Sri Lanka has appealed to the United Nations to delay its report on the violations.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Thursday urged the UN to postpone the publication of the its investigation report as he claimed that the government was not in denial of the violations like the previous regime, reported PTI. Ahead of his talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Samaraweera said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “We are in the process of trying to set up this internal domestic mechanism.”

However, he denied assertions that it was an attempt to to buy time. We are hoping they could hold on to it until our mechanism is in place, he said, adding that the domestic probe would be set up and will be functional in about two months.

Samaraweera is on his first visit to the United States after the Maithripala Sirisena-led government took office last month after decimating Mahinda Rajapaksa who had vehemently resisted cooperation with the UN mandated probe. President Sirisena, earlier this month, had pledged to work with the UN and promised national reconciliation with the Tamil minority.

Once the report is finalised, we are hoping they can refer it to our domestic mechanism for action. Unlike previous government, we believe such violations have happened, Samaraweera asserted. We are ready to ensure that those who have violated human rights in Sri Lanka will be brought to justice through such a mechanism.

But to ensure that it is done in a credible manner we are also looking at technical assistance from the international community, he said. Sri Lanka has been subject to three UNHRC resolutions in 2012, 2013 and 2014 over alleged rights abuses by government troops during the last phase of the war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The last one prescribed an international probe into the alleged rights violations.

According to UN estimates, more than 40,000 civilians were killed in Lanka during the final phase of the conflict that ended in 2009. The Sri Lankan government disputes the UN figure. Rajapaksa ruled since 2005 and is credited with ending the LTTE separatist war. His effort to win an unprecedented third term ended in a disaster with Sirisena, a defector from his own party, toppling him with support from joint opposition, ending a ten-year rule.


60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon killed in car crash


TV news programme ’60 Minutes’ correspondent Bob Simon has died in a car accident. He was 73.

He passed away yesterday, TV channel CBS announced. He is survived by his wife, Francoise, and daughter, Tanya, a producer for 60 Minutes.

Simon suffered head and torso injuries in the accident on Wednesday. An unconscious Simon was transported to St Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital where he died.

During a career spanning five decades, Simon won 27 Emmys for covering major stories including The Vietnam War, violence in Northern Ireland from 1969-1971, The Gulf War and The Olympics.

In 1991, he spent 40 days in an Iraqi prison alongside three other members of the CBS News team, and turned the experience into the 1992 book ‘Forty Days’.

“Bob Simon was a giant of broadcast journalism, and a dear friend to everyone in the CBS News family. We are all shocked by this tragic, sudden loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bob’s extended family and especially with our colleague Tanya Simon,” said CBS News President David Rhodes.

’60 Minutes’ executive producer Jeff Fager called it “a terrible loss for all of us at CBS News.”

Born on in the Bronx, Simon joined CBS News in 1967 as a New York-based reporter and assignment editor.

He began regularly contributing to ’60 Minutes’ in 1996, with the 2014-2015 season marking his 19th on the show. ’60 Minutes’ aired a piece from him on ‘Selma’ over the weekend.

Various television celebrities took to Twitter to express their grief on his demise.
Comedian-TV host Seth Meyers tweeted, “Gutted to hear the news about Bob Simon. An absolute master of his craft.”

“On no! Longtime ’60 Minutes’ correspondent Bob Simon killed in a car accident in New York,” actress Alyssa Milano said.

American journalist Maria Shriver said, “My heart goes out to Bob’s family. I worked with him. True journalist.”

“Bob was for the last five decades, simply one of the best, in my opinion … at getting a story, telling a story, writing a story and making it simply unforgettable,” said CNN’s Anderson Cooper.


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