Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 10th 2017 Contents sports A47
Friday, February 10, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Tharanga gives SL hope as SA eye 5-0
Sri Lanka trail 4-0, have not yet
batted out 50 overs in the series,
and continue to lack menace with
the ball, but around Upul Tha-
ranga's sleek 119 at Newlands, a
little hope has built.
The hope is not necessarily that Sri
Lanka can prevent a whitewash---al-
though that is their immediate con-
The larger expectation is that per-
haps there are the makings of a com-
petitive top order in this present unit.
Niroshan Dickwella's fifties through
the course of the limited-overs match-
es have suggested he can play a strong
role in Sri Lanka's future short-format
sides. The quality of Tharanga's 14th
hundred---his first since 2013---has also
led some to believe he is on the verge of
a renaissance in his own game.
Despite this, South Africa have still
been completely dominant, and have
not really looked like losing at any point
in the series. Faf du Plessis has been
their batting lynchpin, with scores of 55
not out, 105 and a career-best 185. Im-
ran Tahir has held the bowling together
while the seamers rotate around him.
Even after being cracked for 51 off his
first five overs on Tuesday, Tahir took
2 for 25 in his second five, and helped
clinch the match.
Around these two have been a cast
of outstanding players who have taken
each game by the collar at various mo-
ments and kept South Africa spikes on
Sri Lanka throats. The top four have all
scored half-centuries in the series. The
bowlers have not been quite as con-
sistent, but almost always recovered
well from their bad spells.
AB de Villiers has said it publicly:
South Africa will be disappointed with
anything less than 5-0.
In the spotlight
At 24, Quinton de Kock is already one of
the premier batsmen in the game, so his
runs against Sri Lanka have come as no
surprise. The quality of his wicketkeeping,
however, has. In the Tests de Kock com-
pleted several athletic catches behind the
wicket, but in ODIs he has shown off im-
provements in his keeping to spin as well.
The stumping of Dhananjaya de Silva
in Durban and the leaping, one-handed
grab to dismiss Sachith Pathirana in Cape
Town were dismissals any keeper would
be happy to have on their resume.
Kusal Mendis has been one of Sri Lan-
ka's best batsmen of the tour but, by
his own high standards, Mendis will feel
he should have scored more than two
fifties in South Africa. It has been the line
outside off stump that has troubled him
this series, with bowlers having learned
to target him there at the beginning of
his innings. Though he has only recently
turned 22, Sri Lanka's selectors have in-
sisted on playing him in all three formats.
He doesn't have the luxury of time away
from top level cricket to fix weaknesses
in his game, and must instead find solu-
tions on his feet, on the move.
South Africa are unlikely to play two spin-
ners at Centurion. Andile Phehlukwayo
is in line for a recall, and will likely replace
It is possible Dhananjaya de Silva could
be omitted for the final ODI, given his
modest returns right through the tour.
Lahiru Kumara may also exit the side
after conceding 10.42 runs an over on
It's now a patient wait for clubs
in the T&T Super League(TTSL)
to know their fate on whether
approval will be granted by the
parent, T&T Football Associa-
tion, for them to run the super
league this year.
A starting date of June 11 has al-
ready been set for kick-off but some
officials of TTSL are surprised by
the delay, which they described as
unnecessary. At a meeting between
theparties(TTFA/TTSL)at the TTFA
office at the Hasely Crawford Stadi-
um, Mucurapo on Wednesday night,
the TTSL was told to produce their
by-laws, this after they were initially
asked to produce their constitution.
Yesterday, Keith Look Loy, the
TTSL's interim president said his
association has agreed to abide by the
procedures of the TTFA, but noted
their constitution is merely the same
as everyone else,including the six Re-
gional Associations(Eastern Football
Association- EFA, NFA, SFA, CFA,
Tobago Football Association- TFA
and the Eastern Counties Football
Union-ECFU, Women's Football
and T&T Pro League etc.
His hopes that the TTSL Consti-
tution would have been approved at
TTFA's statutory Board meeting on
15 February was dashed following a
release by the TTFA on Tuesday that
outlined a lengthy procedure that
had to be taken before approval can
be granted to the TTSL as a member.
And on Wednesday night the TTFA
stated this procedure may be further
affected by the coming Carnival
activities, as well as other personal
agendas by its members.
The TTSL has since given a date of
mid March for a resolution and gave
a commitment that its by-laws will
be submitted shortly.
Look Loy, who has spent his entire
life in the sport from player, coach,
manager and now FIFA official, said
he could not understand why the tid-
ious process in granting approval to
a league that will enhance the qual-
ity of football in T&T all-round. "In
fact I do not believe that the actual
management of the TTFA should
decide on whether the TTSL should
be accepted as a member or not, but
rather the general membership. "And
this decision should be taken at one
of the football association's general
meetings" the official said.
Guardian Media Sports under-
stands that there are concerns the
TTSL, which produces a high level of
competition in both its Premiership
andChampionship divisions can rival
the T&T Pro League. Look Loy, the
coach and president of Super League
champs Sports and Games Santa
Rosa FC has made it clear he wants
a speedy and amicable resolution to
their issues, saying the interim com-
mittee of the TTSL has gone ahead
with its search for sponsorships of the
league and wanted boththe TTSL and
the TTFA to work togerther for the
betterment of the sport in T&T.
new life into Hull
MANCHESTER---It seemed Marco
Silva had taken on a near-impossi-
ble job when he was hired as man-
ager of Hull at the start of January.
The promoted club from northern
England was up for sale, in last place
in the Premier League and planning to
sell some of its best players. Money was
tight,fans were disgruntled and a squad
short on big names had been struck by
injuries in key areas.
Silva, a 39-year-old Portuguese
coach labeled "Mini-Mourinho" by
some after his illustrious coaching
compatriot, was new to the English
game and was facing a tough and grue-
ling immediate run of matches across
At his presentation as Hull's third
permanent coach in a six-month span,
Silva said survival in the Premier League
would be a "miracle" but urged fans to
believe in him. Somehow, though, he's
turning things around, just like he did
in his first coaching job at Portuguese
team Estoril, which he transformed
from a second-tier club on the brink
of financial ruin to a Europa League
qualifier in two seasons.
Silva has worked wonders in the
transfer market and on the field.
Operating under financial con-
straints, he saw key midfielders Robert
Snodgrass andJake Livermore sold from
under his feet and reacted by making
seven signings --- predominantly players
on loan and rejects from bigger clubs.
Striker Oumar Niasse, for example,
arrived from Everton, where he had
made five appearances and not scored
a single goal in the past year; winger
Lazar Markovic (from Liverpool) and
Omar Elabdellaoui (from Olympiakos)
were among others looking to relaunch
On the training ground, Silva worked
hard on team shape and organisation,
with defender Curtis Davies saying the
coach literally dragged players into the
positions he desired. Days off were can-
celed. Silva was hard, but fair.
His impact was been astonishing.
Hull has won all four of its home
matches under Silva, having failed to
win any of its previous five at KCOM
Stadium. Among the defeated teams
were some stellar names, Manchester
United in the League Cup and Liver-
pool in the league last weekend. Hull
also ground out a 0-0 draw at United in
the league and was regarded as unlucky
to lose 2-0 at runaway leader Chelsea,
when midfielder Ryan Mason fractured
Hull---a team with an eclectic mix of
youngsters, misfits and journeymen ---
has climbed to 18th place and within
a point of safety. A trip to Arsenal on
Saturday suddenly holds no fear for
Silva's team, and why should it? The
last time Silva was in the dug-out at
Emirates Stadium, he was in charge of
Olympiakos and the Greek side stunned
Arsenal 3-2 in the Champions League
in September 2015.
"I am not a miracle worker," Silva
said. "But that is not important. I am
a worker, I want to work and keep our
goal in our minds always, but my feet
always stay on the ground."
It's a good time to be playing Arsenal,
too. Almost inevitably, Arsene Wenger's
side is starting to implode at a key stage
of the season, with back-to-back losses
to Watford and Swansea dropping Ar-
senal to fourth place and virtually ruling
it out of the Premier League title race.
The annual debate over whether
Wenger should stay or go at the end
of the season has resumed and the at-
mosphere inside the Emirates could be
toxic if Hull continues where it left off
against Liverpool last week.
"They didn't have good results in
their last two games," Silva said yes-
terday, "and, of course, the last time I
played there it was a great result for us,
for Olympiakos. But now it's different.
Different competition, different mo-
ment and different clubs."
Is there some hope for the chasing
Holding a nine-point lead with 14
games left, Chelsea heads to a team
that has won nine of its last 10 homes
games in all competitions.
Burnley's only loss at Turf Moor since
early October was against Manchester
Leicester, the struggling defending
champion, has slumped to within one
point of the relegation zone after a run
of four straight losses.
Only four teams stand between the
champions and last place, and they play
one of them on Sunday---Swansea.(AP)
Manchester United's manager Jose Mourinho, second right, hugs his player Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini
after he scored his side's second goal of the game, as Hull's manager Marco Silva looks on during the English
League Cup semifinal, 1st leg, soccer match between Manchester United and Hull at Old Trafford stadium in
Manchester, England, on January 10. AP PHOTO
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