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Tuesday February 27th, 2024

New Zealand thrash Sri Lanka to level series 1-1

AFP | New Zealand held their nerve to clinch a hard-fought and comprehensive victory against Sri Lanka in fading light in the second Test Monday and level the two-match series 1-1.

Victory was achieved with an hour left on day five when Lasith Embuldeniya edged a short delivery from Trent Boult to Kane Williamson at gully.

Sri Lanka were bowled out for 122 runs after New Zealand declared their second innings on 431 for six with a first-innings lead of 185.

The game went to the last hour of day five at Colombo’s P. Sara Oval, and although 19.4 overs remained when tail-ender Embuldeniya was the last man dismissed, umpires could have called off play at any time with the light fast deteriorating.

New Zealand’s bowlers were hurrying through their deliveries knowing too well that they were racing against time.

The first four days’ play had been severely affected by rain, wet ground conditions and bad light, but surprisingly the final day stayed clear despite a 30-minute delayed start.

Sri Lanka had given away the initiative to New Zealand after losing five wickets for 32 runs before lunch, but a terrific fightback by wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella kept their hopes of salvaging a draw.

Dickwella, who wasn’t able to keep wicket having sustained a cut on his left little finger, showed plenty of character during a 51-run knock that lasted for three-and-a-half hours.

It was his 13th half-century in Test cricket.

There was little support from the rest of Sri Lanka’s batsmen, with skipper Dimuth Karunaratne’s 21 being the second-highest score.

Suranga Lakmal and Dickwella had batted for over an hour, but the stand was broken when Lakmal gloved one to close-in fielder Tom Latham after tea.

Sri Lanka were still counting on Dickwella when he fell for his famous sweep shot.

The 26-year-old relies heavily on the shot to score his runs, but on this occasion he had stayed away from taking undue risks.

Ajaz Patel switched ends and came on from the Air Force Flats side, and as Dickwella shaped to play the sweep shot, Latham at short leg moved to his left and positioned himself in the perfect place to snap up the chance.

Dickwella could hardly believe his luck before walking off dejected.
– ‘Very happy’ –

Latham’s close in fielding was brilliant and so was his batting, particularly his battles with Sri Lankan spinners.

The opening batsman was named Man of the Match for his 154, a seven-hour vigil in which he faced 251 deliveries and was involved in two hundred plus run stands.

Tim Southee, Boult, Patel and William Somerville claimed two wickets each while Colin de Grandhomme claimed the big wicket of Angelo Mathews.

“The experience we had in Galle was good, although we lost the game, for us to build up and to make improvements for this game,” New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson told reporters.

“There were some superb individual performances. To score at a fast rate on day four was important because of the amount of time that we had lost in this game.”

Williamson praised the bowlers, adding that Sri Lanka were “an extremely tough team to beat”.

“We were close in Galle but not close enough. It was nice to touch on key areas and win this match and very happy with the result,” he added.

Williamson’s Sri Lankan counterpart Dimuth Karunaratne criticised his team’s approach, saying they were “too defensive” and played into New Zealand’s hands.

“We could have shown more intent. Dickwella batted well but he received little support from the rest of us,” he said.

Karunaratne is known for his rescue missions but the opener was forced to bat after the fall of the fifth wicket as he had stayed away from the field due to quadriceps strain on day three.

“Had I opened the innings, it would have helped me to hold one end up and you never know,” he added.

“We could have stitched a couple of partnerships. All in all it was a very disappointing effort from our boys.”

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Sri Lanka president appoints Supreme Court-faulted official as police chief after CC clearance

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe appointed Deshbandu Tennakoon as the 36th Inspector General of Police (IGP) of the country after the Constitutional Council (CC) cleared the official who along with three other police officers were asked by the Supreme Court to compensate 2 million rupees in a fundamental rights case last year.

“President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed Deshbandu Tennakoon as the IGP in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution,” the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

The island nation’s Supreme Court on December 14 ordered Tennakoon when he was the Acting IGP and three other officials to pay a compensation of 500,000 rupees each for the violation of the fundamental rights of an individual.

The Supreme Court also instructed the Police Commission to take disciplinary action against the said Police officers after it considered the petition filed by W. Ranjith Sumangala who had accused the Police officers of violating his fundamental rights during his detention at Mirihana Police Station in 2011.

The Supreme Court held that the four police officers violated the fundamental rights of the petitioner by his illegal arrest, detention and subjection to torture at the Mirihana Police Station, which was under the supervision of Tennakoon at the time of the arrest.

President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake presented the official appointment letter to Tennakoon on Monday (26) at the Presidential Secretariat.

When Tennakoon was asked over if the Supreme Court decision would have an impact on his appointment as the IGP last week, he declined to comment, saying that it was a Supreme Court matter and he does not want to say anything about it.

Tennakoon was also criticized by Colombo Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith when he was appointed as the Acting IGP citing allegations against him related to security lapses leading up to the Easter Sunday attacks which killed at least 269 in April 2019.

However, Tennakoon rejected the allegations. (Colombo/Feb 26/2024)

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No water tariff hike in Sri Lanka this year: Minister

Millennium Challenge Corporation Photo.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s planned water tariff formula is ready, and the government will implement it this year only if the formula’s tariff is lower than the current price, Water Supply Minister Jeevan Thondaman said.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government has been implementing IMF-led pricing policies on utilities and the Water Supply Ministry has already come up with a formula.

“There is a water tariff formula in place right now and we are waiting for it to be drafted and seek approval from the cabinet,” Thondaman told reporters at a media briefing in Colombo on Monday.

“Once this water tariff formula is in place, there will be an annual revision with an option of biannual review.

The formula has been developed with the help of the Asian Development Bank. The formula includes electricity and exchange rate among many others as components like the fuel formula.

The National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB) increased the water tariff in August 2023, claiming that the operating cost had been increased owing to high interest payment for bank loans and increased electricity prices.

The last year revision saw the consumers paying 30-50 percent increase from the existing water bill.

Minister Thondaman said he will implement the new formula this year only if there is a reduction.

TARIFF CUT WILL BE IMPLEMENTED 

“We will have to wait to see what the formula is. If the formula shows us there needs to be a reduction in the water tariff, we can implement it. But if there is an increase, why should we burden the people when we are on a road to recovery?” he said.

He said a group of experts including University Professors are working on the formula and the numbers.

“Once they come with the number, we will have to take a decision on whether we are going to impose on the people or not,” he said.

“We have already spoken to the Asian Development Bank and informed them we have established the formula. But according to the ADB requirement of this policy-based loan, the implementation period is only in 2025.”

“But right now, you want to take the approval for the formula for sustainability.”

The Energy Ministry is considering a drastic slash in electricity tariff soon. Thondaman said the exact numbers will be decided on after the finalized electricity tariff.

However, he said that as per the formula, there has to be a up to 10 percent increase in the water tariff as of now.

“Given the current formula set up, there must be around a 9-10 percent increase. It was actually at 14 percent. What we have done is since it is at 14 percent, we also did a calculation to see how we can do a cost cutting,” he said.

“So, despite our cost cutting measures, there will be an increase of 9 or 10 percent. But we will not be imposing it as of now because this year is meant to be policy sector reforms. Next year is meant to be the implementation.”

“As per August 2023 water tariff hike, we are able to come close to sustainable. So right now, there is no issue in the water sector. But a formula eventually needs to be established.” (Colombo/Feb 26/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes at 310.80/311.00 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 310.80/311.00 to the US dollar Monday, from 310.95/311.05 on Thursday, dealers said.

Bond yields were down.

A bond maturing on 01.02.2026 closed stable at 10.60/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.80/90 percent down from 11.90/12.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.03.2028 closed at 12.00/12.15 percent down from 12.10/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.20/70 percent from 12.20/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 12.30/70 percent down from 12.40/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2031 closed at 12.60/80 percent from 12.45/13.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 12.50/90 percent from 12.50/13.30 percent. (Colombo/Feb26/2024)

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