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Tuesday February 27th, 2024

Watling puts New Zealand in strong position in Galle

Galle, Sri Lanka | AFP | Friday – A fighting half-century by wicketkeeper-batsman B.J. Watling helped New Zealand to take a highly competitive lead of 177 at stumps on day three in the first Test match against Sri Lanka in Galle on Friday.

New Zealand, who trailed Sri Lanka by 18 runs in the first innings, finished on 195 for seven and a target around 200 could prove tricky for the hosts.

Spinners have long ruled the roost at Galle and towards the tail end of the game they tend to become even more threatening.

The highest successful run chase at the grounds is 99 by Sri Lanka against Pakistan in 2014 and armed with a three-pronged spin attack, New Zealand should be already feeling comfortable.

It was a thrilling day’s Test match with both teams fighting tooth and nail for the initiative and at stumps on day three New Zealand emerged on top thanks to the efforts of Watling, who finished unbeaten on 63.

New Zealand had slumped to 25 for three losing top batsmen Ross Taylor (3) and Kane Williamson (4) cheaply and at 124 for six with only a lead of 106 runs and four wickets remaining, they were playing catch up.

But Watling found an ideal partner in Tim Southee as the pair shared a 54-run stand to turn the game in New Zealand’s favour.

Sri Lanka were sloppy on the field with Southee dropped three times. Lasith Embuldeniya provided the much-needed breakthrough when Southee gave him the charge and was stumped by Niroshan Dickwella. He made 23. It was Embuldeniya’s fourth wicket in the innings.

– Grace under pressure –

Watling had been given out leg before to Embuldeniya when he was on one but the batsman successfully reviewed the decision.

Watling, who has six Test hundreds and posted a career best unbeaten 142 against Sri Lanka, was again being a thorn in their flesh with an unbeaten 63 that came off 138 balls with five fours.

"It was a fantastic innings by Watling. He is a guy who stands up when we need him and he showed that again today. The last couple of partnerships were crucial," opening batsman Tom Latham, who made 45, told journalists.

"The calmness under pressure is superb. He has done it time and again for us. When he is pushed to tough situations, he enjoys those situations and that brings the best out of him. It’s great to have him in our team,"  he added.

Latham said that a target in excess of 200 would be hard for Sri Lanka to chase.

"We are not too far off from that. Hopefully we can stitch that total to as many as possible. We know how tough it can be in the fourth innings to chase down a score."

Earlier, after resuming on 227 for seven, Niroshan Dickwella top scored for Sri Lanka with 61 as they went onto post 267. Dickwella and Suranga Lakmal were involved in a crucial 81 run stand for the eighth wicket that enabled them to take a lead. Lakmal made 40.

"At that point we were 160 for seven and we were in big trouble. I had to build the innings with Suranga and I had to get some runs as well. I had to protect Suranga from the tough bowlers," Dickwella said.

"Even if we get a target of 225 or so I think we can chase it down. Batting fourth will be tough on this wicket, no doubt about that, but we have a decent batting line-up. Looking forward for the challenge."

Ajaz Patel became the first New Zealander to take five wickets in Galle and he was well backed up by William Somerville and Trent Boult, who shared five wickets between the two of them.
 

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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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