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Monday April 22nd, 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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IMF official: Sri Lanka’s road ahead is challenging, critical to keep up with reform momentum

ECONOMYNEXT –International Monetary Fund’s First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath said Sri Lanka’s future with many reforms are challenging, but it is critical to keep up with the reform momentum.

Gopinath stated this after meeting the island nation’s State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe, and Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena on the sideline of the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington.

“I commended them on hard-won economic gains in the past year. The road ahead is challenging and it’s critical to keep up with the reform momentum,” Gopinath wrote on her X platform.

Under IMF programme, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has implemented a raft of hard reforms including higher taxes.

Sri Lanka agreed to the IMF programme after it declared bankruptcy with sovereign debt default in April 2022.

Semasinghe after the meeting tanks Gopinath for acknowledging Sri Lanka’s economic progress.

“Our discussion was insightful and productive, and we appreciate the opportunity to delve into the challenges and opportunities ahead,” the State Finance minister said in his X platform.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to our reform agenda and eagerly anticipate continued collaboration with the IMF to advance our shared goals.”

Sri Lanka was compelled to go for IMF after the unprecedented economic crisis which was followed by a political crisis that ousted former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government who were legitimately elected.

The IMF programme has included reforms in state-owned enterprises, fiscal sector and financial sectors to ensure debt sustainability.

The global lender also has pledged its support to speed up the island nation’s lingering debt restructuring process with private creditors including sovereign bond holders. (Colombo/April 22/2021)

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Sri Lanka motor racing crash claims 7 lives, 4 critical

ECONOMYNEXT – A deadly accident at motor Race Sri Lanka’s hill country town of Diyathalawa has claimed at least 7 lives police said, after a racing vehicle, in the seasonal Fox Hill Super Cross ploughed in to spectators after running off the track.

Another 21 spectators were injured Sunday, and hospitalized and at least four were critical, police said.

Thousands of people come to watch the Fox Hill Super Cross race, which is usually held in April, as large numbers of people head to the cooler climes in the hills.

According to footage taken by spectators one car overturned on the side of the track.

Sri Lanka’s Newsfirst television said Marshalls were waving flags to caution other vehicles, when another car went off the track and crashed into spectators. (Colombo/April21/2024)

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Widespread support for Sri Lanka debt workout, reform progress at IMF/WB meet: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – There was widespread support for Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring and acknowledgement of progress made under an International Monetary Fund program, at meeting of the fund and World Bank, State Minister for Finance Shehan Semasinghe said.

“The strides made in our economic recovery and financial stability have been acknowledged as significant advancements towards our country’s prosperity by our stakeholders and international partners,” Minister Semasinghe said in an x.com (twitter) post after attending the meetings.

“Further, it was heartening to note the widespread appreciation and support for Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring process.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to reaching the restructuring targets and confident of smooth progress in the continued good-faith engagements for a speedy debt resolution that will ensure debt sustainability and comparability of debt treatment.”

Sri Lanka ended a first round of talks with sovereign bondholders in March without striking a deal but some agreement on the basis for a deal.

An initial deal with bilateral creditors have been reached, but they may be awaiting a deal with private creditors to sign formal agreements.

International partners have appreciated reforms made under President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Minister Semasinghe said.

“It was great to engage in productive bilateral discussions with all of whom appreciated the recent economic developments, progress in debt restructuring, strengthening of tax administration, and ongoing governance reforms,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s rupee has been allowed to re-appreciate by the central bank amid deflationary monetary policy, bringing tangible benefits to people in the form of lower energy and food prices, unlike in past IMF programs.

Electricity prices were cut as a strengthening currency helped reduce the cost of coal imports.

Related Sri Lanka central bank mainly responsible for electricity price cut

The currency appreciation has also allowed losses to the Employment Provident Fund imposed to be partially recouped, helping old workers near retirement, as well as raising disposable incomes of current wage earners on fixed salaries.

Related Sri Lanka EPF gets US$1.85bn in value back as central bank strengthens rupee

The IMF, which was set up after World War II to end devaluations seen in the 1930s after the Fed’s policy rate infected other key central banks, started to actively encourage depreciation after a change to its founding articles in 1978 (the Second Amendment).

The usefulness of money as a store of value, or a denominator of current and future values then decline, leading to loss of real savings, real wages and increases in social unrest.

Before that, members who devalued more than 10 percent after printing money for growth or any other reason, faced the threat of suspension from the organization as punishment.

Sri Lanka’s rupee has appreciated to around 300 to the US dollar now from 370 after a surrender rule was lifted in March 2023.

But there is no transparency on the basis that economic bureaucrats are allowing the currency to gain against the US dollar (the intervention currency of the central bank).

The rupee is currently under pressure, despite broadly prudent monetary policy, due to an ‘oversold position’ in the market after recent appreciation made importers and banks to run negative open positions as the usefulness of the currency as a denominator of future value declined with sudden strenghtening. (Colombo/Apr21/2024)

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