Gunaratne blasts Sri Lanka to T20 win

Allrounder Asela Gunaratne has blasted Sri Lanka to a stunning two-wicket T20 win over Australia in Geelong.

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He hit the match-winning boundary off the last ball on Sunday night to cap his outstanding 84no from 46 balls, as Sri Lanka snatched the win from the home team’s grasp.

Sri Lanka have an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the series ahead of Wednesday’s last game at Adelaide Oval.

Australia are yet to beat Sri Lanka in a home T20 after five games.

Gunaratne’s innings featured six fours and five sixes, including four sixes and three fours in the tumultuous last two overs.

Chasing 173, Sri Lanka slumped to 5-40 and with two overs left, they were still off the pace at 7-138.

But Gunaratne blasted three sixes and a four off Moises Henriques, meaning they needed 14 off the last over.

After Nuwan Kalesekara was dismissed off the first ball, Gunaratne belted a four and a six off Andrew Tye.

As was the case in game one, it came down to the last ball of the match, with Sri Lanka needing two to win.

Gunaratne smashed another boundary, sparking wild scenes of jubilation among the Sri Lankans as they reached 8-176.

He also top-scored with 52 in Friday night’s win.

Earlier, Australia’s under-strength attack had torn through the Sri Lankan top order as paceman Jhye Richardson impressed on debut and Andrew Tye was on a hat-trick.

But the first full international cricket match in Geelong attracted an underwhelming crowd of 13,537, with unseasonably poor weather undoubtedly hurting the attendance.

Richardson is one of Australian T20 debutants along with 36-year-old Michael Klinger, who followed up his 38 in game one with 43 on Sunday.

Henriques paced the Australian innings with an unbeaten 56, his first T20 international half century, while Kulasekara ended the innings with three wickets in four balls.

Gunaratne also took the key wicket of Ben Dunk, who had blasted 32 runs from 14 balls.

Australia made a surprise omission by leaving out legspinner Adam Zampa, who impressed on Friday night.

Australian captain Aaron Finch said Gunaratne’s epic knock was one of the better T20 innings he had seen.

“That was definitely up there … a guy who can hit it 360 (degrees) is such a dangerous player and so hard to defend (against),” he said.

“You have to have four fielders in the circle, so there’s always somewhere exposed and if you have skills like that, it’s hard to defend against.”

Gunaratne, a quietly-spoken character, said with a smile it was the best he had batted.

“I was planning to finish the match at all costs and I was quite happy I could do that,” he said through a translator.

“It certainly wasn’t easy, but you had to come up with some plan and (tonight), it worked.”

As Gunaratne spoke, several hundred Sri Lankan fans could be heard celebrating raucously outside the ground.

Several thousand expatriate fans have made the Sri Lankans feel like it was a home match

“The fact we won the series was the greatest satisfaction … it couldn’t have been better,” Gunaratne said.

“It was like playing at home away from home and the support (we’ve had) is a great strength.

“That made it a little easier.”

US plan speeds asylum-seeker deportations

The US Department of Homeland Security has prepared new guidance for immigration agents aimed at speeding up deportations by denying asylum claims earlier in the process.

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The new guidelines, contained in a draft memo dated February 17 but not yet sent to field offices, directs agents to only pass applicants who have a good chance of ultimately getting asylum, but does not give specific criteria for establishing credible fear of persecution if sent home.

The guidance instructs asylum officers to “elicit all relevant information” in determining whether an applicant has “credible fear” of persecution if returned home, the first obstacle faced by migrants on the US-Mexico border requesting asylum.

Three sources familiar with the drafting of the guidance said the goal of the new instructions is to raise the bar on initial screening in order to ease strain on the courts and reduce the number of immigrants allowed to stay in the US, often for years, while they await a hearing.

The administration’s plan is to leave wide discretion to asylum officers by allowing them to determine which applications have a “significant possibility” of being approved by an immigration court, the sources said.

The guidance was first reported and posted on the internet by McClatchy news organisation.

In 2015, just 18 per cent of asylum applicants whose cases were ruled on by immigration judges were granted asylum, according to the Justice Department.

Applicants from countries with a high rate of political persecution have a higher chance of winning their asylum cases.

A tougher approach to asylum seekers would be an element of President Donald Trump’s promise to crack down on immigration and tighten border security, a cornerstone of his election campaign and a top priority of his first month in office.

The guidelines are contained in two draft memos signed by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and currently under review by the White House, according to two people familiar with them.

The memos also outlined plans for greatly expanding the categories of people that immigration agents target for deportation, and gives them wide discretion in deciding who to deport.

Previously, recent arrivals and convicted criminals were the prime targets. The new plan would include migrants who have been charged but not convicted of crimes, and would also apply to illegal immigrants who have been in the country for many years.

The memos also call for quickly hiring 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as well as 5000 more border patrol agents.

‘What has he been smoking?’: Trump refers to non-existent Sweden terror incident

US President Donald Trump has tweeted that he was referring to a Fox News report when he appeared to refer to Sweden as the site of a terror incident – the latest of several instances where his administration appeared to reference non-existent attacks.

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My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2017

President Trump was addressing a campaign-style rally in Florida when he launched into a list of places that have been targeted by terrorists.

“You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible,” he said, provoking mockery on social media.

Trump’s speech was aimed at defending his order last month that blocked refugees and travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The order has been suspended by a federal appeals court, and Trump vowed to introduce a new order this week as a means of protecting Americans at home.

He went on to name Brussels, Nice and Paris – European cities that have been struck by deadly terror attacks.

Sweden’s embassy in Washington has asked for an explanation, the foreign ministry in Stockholm said Sunday.

@fuadmb About #swedenincident #lastnightinsweden unclear to us what President Trump was referring to,have asked US officials for explanation

— Embassy of Sweden US (@SwedeninUSA) February 19, 2017

For Donald Trump’s supporters, the social media and reporting frenzy is yet more evidence of what they see as pervasive media bias against President Trump.

“We all make mistakes or misspeak on some facts,” said Michelle Mesi from Texas.

“But let’s face it, those misspeaks don’t change the fact that terror is a reality and we are owed due diligence to keep America safe.” she said.

Massachusetts Trump voter Joe Hession said the media has been obsessed over the “smallest dumb stuff.”

“They will nit-pick anything he does or says,” Mr Hession said.

Users on Twitter, Trump’s favorite communication platform, cracked jokes about the apparent miscue using the hashtags #lastnightinSweden and #SwedenIncident.

I’m safe! In fact, we’re all safe here in Sweden.#lastnightinsweden @POTUS @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/tdZnX0O0Qn

— Kenneth Bodin (@KennethBodin) February 19, 2017

Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt asked: “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound.”

Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound. 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/XWgw8Fz7tj

— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) February 19, 2017

Gunnar Hokmark, a Swedish member of the European Parliament, retweeted a post that said “#lastnightinSweden my son dropped his hotdog in the campfire. So sad!”

Hokmark added his own comment: “How could he know?”

Numerous internet wags responded with Ikea-themed tweets. Some posted photos of the impossible-to-understand instructions for assembling Ikea furniture, calling it “Secret Plans for the #SwedenIncident.”

It wasn’t a pretty sight #lastnightinsweden #DonaldTrump #jesuisikea pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/SMa8jc8K7G

— Dimitri Verbelen (@DimitriVerbelen) February 19, 2017’Nothing has happened’

Posts flooded into @sweden, the country’s official Twitter account which is run by a different Swede each week.

This week’s curator, Emma, who describes herself as a school librarian and mother, said the account had received 800 mentions in four hours.

“No. Nothing has happened here in Sweden. There has not (been) any terrorist attacks here. At all. The main news right now is about Melfest,” she said, referring to the competition to pick the performer who will represent Sweden at the Eurovision singing contest.

Top Trump aides in his month-old administration have faced criticism and ridicule after speaking publicly about massacres that never took place.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway — who famously coined the term “alternative facts” — referred to a “Bowling Green massacre” during an interview.

She later tweeted that she meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists” — referring to two Iraqi men who were indicted in 2011 for trying to send money and weapons to Al-Qaeda, and using improvised explosive devices against US soldiers in Iraq.

And White House spokesman Sean Spicer made three separate references in one week to an attack in Atlanta.

He later said he meant to say Orlando, the Florida city where an American of Afghan origin gunned down 49 people at a gay nightclub last year.

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Australia and UAE to deepen defence ties

Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will explore closer defence ties after a meeting between Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

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Mr Pyne and Sheikh Mohammed, who is also Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, met on the sidelines of the biennial International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The two agreed to consider a 10-year defence plan that could include more than SA1 billion in sales to the UAE, Mr Pyne told Reuters.

“What the Crown Prince is talking about is a more mature long-term relationship built around security and procurement,” he said.

Australia has military personnel stationed in the UAE, taking part in the US-led campaign against Islamic State.

A final agreement has yet to be reached but could include a transfer of knowledge from Australian to UAE companies.

“They are looking for genuine partners, not just foreign military sales, and that suits Australia’s attitude extremely well,” Mr Pyne said.

Sales could include everything from ammunition to large items such as “high-speed support vessels”, he said.

“We have very significant capabilities, particularly around coastal protection and surveillance, which I think we should be sharing with our Middle Eastern partners.”

Australian companies could finalise hundreds of millions of dollars in defence sales to the UAE at IDEX this week, Mr Pyne added.

The UAE, a federation of seven emirates on the Arabian Peninsula, has invested heavily in its domestic defence manufacturing capabilities through international partnerships.

It is also a close US ally and a global trade, transport and tourism hub. The development of its defence industries has been led by Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s main petroleum-exporting emirate, to boost the non-oil economy.

“I think potential here for defence procurement partnerships as well as security partnerships is very significant,” Mr Pyne said, calling the UAE one of Australia’s “closest friends in the Arab world”.

The UAE is part of the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition fighting in Yemen against the Iran-allied Houthi movement in support of the country’s internationally recognised government.

It has also taken part in the US-led effort against Islamic State.

Warriors galvanised by new captain RTS

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck gallops up and down the Warriors training paddock like a little kid at the best of times, so just imagine what he’s like with the captaincy on his shoulders.

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“Now he does that twice,” hooker Issac Luke said.

“He’s actually gotten more excited.”

The new Warriors skipper led his side out for the first time in last week’s trial loss to Melbourne, and will do so again on Sunday against Gold Coast.

Seeking a captain who led by example, boss Stephen Kearney gave Tuivasa-Sheck the role a fortnight ago despite having played just seven times for the club.

But he has also surrounded the 23-year-old ex-Rooster with older heads in the changeroom for support, one of whom is vice-captain Simon Mannering.

“It’s exciting for the club and Roger, to have such an enthusiastic and respected player at the club having that role,” Mannering said.

“You get a lot of energy from him and the way he leads.”

A former Warriors captain himself, the 30-year-old stalwart knows better than most the challenges of the role.

He empathised with ex-captain Ryan Hoffman, demoted from the role, but said Tuivasa-Sheck had brought nothing but positivity to the table so far.

“All of us have to support him as best as we can,” Mannering said.

Initially tentative to take the job , Tuivasa-Sheck sounded out a number of players before accepting Kearney’s offer, including prop Jacob Lillyman.

Lillyman encouraged his teammate to embrace the challenge, saying the responsibility would help his development as a player.

If he needed help, the Kiwi could just bounce ideas off his teammates.

“A great appointment, especially with the big picture in mind,” Lillyman said.

“He wouldn’t have been everyone’s first choice but you’ve got to look at what he does on the training field, the way he prepares himself.

“He’s such a great example to everyone.”

Burn confirms application for top cop job

Deputy NSW Police Commissioner Catherine Burn has officially thrown her hat into the ring for the state’s top police job, saying she’s been “vindicated” over a police bugging scandal.

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“I would regard it as a great honour and a duty to continue to build on the outstanding progress we have made in recent times by serving the community of NSW as their Police Commissioner,” she said in an official statement.

“But that is for others to decide.”

Her confirmation on Sunday comes one week before the February 26 deadline to apply for outgoing Commissioner Andrew Scipione’s position.

“Under his leadership, there have been significant reductions in serious crime and the public’s confidence in the integrity of the NSW police force has never been higher,” Ms Burn, who has served 33 years in the force, said.

Mr Scipione has brought his retirement forward from July and will step down in early April.

Ms Burn told News Corp Australia she had been “vindicated” over the police bugging scandal and should not be punished for “mistakes” made 18 years ago during an internal affairs operation.

A NSW Ombudsman’s report that found Ms Burn engaged in “unlawful conduct” when she was supervising the management of an informant who breached bail conditions.

She was also found to have engaged in “unreasonable conduct” by pursuing an investigation despite allegations being inaccurate or misrepresented.

“Crucially, the Ombudsman report found that I never acted illegally, I never acted unethically, I never did anything that was deliberate or intentionally wrong and I never had malice against anyone,” Ms Burn told News Corp.

The position for the top job is open to national contenders however, earlier this month, Ms Burn’s rival and former NSW deputy commissioner Nick Kaldas said he was “considering applying” too.

Mr Kaldas also had adverse findings made against him in the Ombudsman’s report over alleged accessing of material and alleged false evidence.

He has the backing of the opposition and the Greens, with NSW Labor leader Luke Foley labelling Mr Kaldas the “the finest police officer of his generation”.

Applications will be assessed by an independent panel of five before going to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Police Minister Troy Grant and cabinet.

Liberals get personal at launch

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has declared his government is rapidly catching Labor with election day just three weeks away.

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Mr Barnett helped officially launch the Liberal Party’s 2017 campaign on Sunday as a new ReachTEL survey showed the ALP and government 50-50 on a two-party preferred basis after the opposition had dominated polling for more than a year.

“I always felt the Labor Party were in front leading up to this election,” Mr Barnett said.

“But as the election goes on my sense is it is getting closer and closer now people are focused on the parties’ policies and candidates.”

There was a personal element to attacks on Labor at the launch at the University of Western Australia, with footage of leader Mark McGowan sweating at a press conference and federal MP Christian Porter using it to repeatedly ridicule him as “slimy” and untrustworthy.

The spectre of disgraced former premier and lobbyist Brian Burke was raised, including Mr McGowan previously having sought his advice and the fact several ministers in the previous Gallop-Carpenter governments lost jobs because of dealings with him.

Mr Barnett and his deputy Liza Harvey attacked Labor for being “mediocre” under Mr McGowan with a shadow ministry that included four former union organisers that would be involved in running the state if they won.

“This government has been a high achieving government in sometimes quite difficult times,” he said.

“People haven’t forgotten that the Labor government when they were in power were compromised.

“I’m comfortable with (personal attacks) given all the abuse I’ve copped from Mark McGowan and others over the years, this is an election campaign, it’s all out on the table.”

There is speculation Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will announce some kind of “floor” in GST revenue, which has fallen to about 30 cents in the dollar in WA, when he joins the campaign on Monday.

The lack of GST revenue WA gets compared to other states was described as the “one major financial” issue by Mr Barnett behind its deficit and debt issues.

After walking out to the Daft Punk song One More Time, Mr Barnett made several election funding promises.

A $110 million live export loading facility south of Perth, stamp duty concessions of up to $15,000 for seniors wanting to downsize homes and a new employer incentive scheme to generate 15,000 apprenticeships.

Better days ahead for Thunderbirds: coach

Adelaide Thunderbirds coach Dan Ryan believes his long-suffering side will go into this Saturday’s Super Netball clash with the NSW Swifts knowing what it takes to be successful after a win over West Coast Fever.

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The Thunderbirds overcame a seven-goal three-quarter-time deficit to finish over the top of the Fever 56-51, courtesy of an explosive 10-1 finish in the final seven minutes.

There is a renewed buzz in the Adelaide camp, with last year’s cellar dwellers currently sitting second on the ladder.

“We went into this game (Fever) with so many unknowns but we leave knowing we’ve got what it takes to be successful,” Ryan said.

“Next week is a whole new ball game but we’ll take the energy from this win and move forward.

“What we’ll take out of this game is we can be really ugly for three quarters and then get it together when it matters.

“The players will see the potential this group has now.”

Pivotal in the remarkable comeback against West Coast was nerveless debutant Gia Abernethy, the daughter of former SA football great Bruce Abernethy.

The 22-year-old was promoted to the senior line-up to replace injured midcourter Hannah Petty and made an immediate impact.

Abernethy’s energy and calmness in the midcourt sparked the Thunderbirds and afforded experienced Chelsea Pitman more freedom at wing attack.

She looks destined for a long, fruitful career.

“Unbelievable,” Ryan said of Abernethy’s debut.

“She gave us a sense of calm in that front line and gave Chelsea Pitman lots of room to work.

“Gia looked like she’d been out in that league for a long, long time.”

Australia reel from last-ball T20 losses

Another last-ball T20 loss guarantees more debate about the Australian cricket team’s schedule.

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T20 captain Aaron Finch said that is for others to decide – all he can do is try to make sure his team rallies for the third and final match against Sri Lanka.

Finch was gutted after Asela Gunaratne produced an outstanding innings and led Sri Lanka to a two-wicket win on Sunday night in Geelong.

He hit the winning runs off the last ball and Australia also lost on the last delivery in Friday night’s game at the MCG.

Finch is leading an under-strength team, with a handful of top players unavailable due to the Test tour of India.

That has led to criticism of the T20 series, with former player Stuart Clark deriding it as the ‘Who Cares Cup’.

“Any time Australia lose there are always questions asked of everyone, no matter what the format of the game,” Finch said.

“All those questions will come up, no doubt.

“It’s well above my pay grade to make decisions like that.

“It’s been a talking point the whole time, when you take out a handful of world-class players, but the guys we have here deserved their spots, absolutely”.

Paceman Jhye Richardson made an impressive debut on Sunday night, Moises Henriques top-scored with 56no and 36-year-old debutant Michael Klinger has scored 38 and 43 in the series.

Ben Dunk also belted 32 from 14 balls in Geelong.

“We’re very disappointed, obviously – it’s a tough loss to take,” Finch said.

“I thought we had enough runs … but credit to Gunaratne, he played a hell of an innings.”

Australia made 173 and then had Sri Lanka by the throat at 5-40, only for Gunaratne to win the game with his unbeaten 84.

“I second-guess every decision that I made out there as a captain … obviously there were a few guys still with some overs up their sleeve,” Finch said.

“But I went with what I thought was the right decision and I will reflect on that with the coaches, talk to some other players as well.

“You also have to be able to defend in that situation as well and unfortunately we didn’t do that.

“A freak innings and a little bit of mis-executing and you get rolled.”

Legspinner Adam Zampa was a surprise omission from Sunday’s team, but Finch said that was purely because of the wet conditions.

Finch also defended the venue after a small crowd of 13,500.

“Being about minus seven degrees doesn’t help and bucketing down with rain all day,” he said.

“But the crowd was still fantastic.

“The surface, after so much of a downpour, was unbelievable (and) the wicket played really well.”

DNA testing for SA cold case murder

New DNA technology will be used to try to crack the cold case murder of man whose limbs were found in an Adelaide drain more than two decades ago.

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South Australian police on Sunday revealed forensic material linked to the 1993 murder of Peter Livingstone has been earmarked for further DNA testing.

The items include several pieces of clothing and a curtain Mr Livingston’s dismembered limbs were found wrapped in when they were stuffed inside a stormwater drain in Marino, in the city’s south, on March 19, 1993, two weeks after he was last seen.

Detective Sergeant Justin Ganley says the murder is still “an active case” and hopes new DNA analysis technology may offer Mr Livingston’s family some peace after years of torment.

“It’s really sad for his family that they don’t have any answers.”

Sgt Ganley says investigative work has not brought them any closer to identifying a suspect, having ruled out several over the years.

Detectives are also yet to establish the killer’s motive but suggest Mr Livingston, then 32, may have been coaxed from his property by someone known to him.

Mr Livingston was due to meet a friend for a drink at a nearby hotel on 6 March but left his property unexpectedly without his watch and only pair of sandshoes.

A fortnight later his limbs were found wrapped in three 1960s-styled jumpers which, in turn, were wrapped in batik-style cloth fashioned into a curtain.

His head and body were never found.

A $200,000 reward has been offered for anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest of the killer, or help in the recovery of his remains.

Sgt Ganley said he found it “callous and cold” in the extreme that someone would be able to “do that to a body”.