BY M. SHAMIL AMIT
Traditional rivals Royal College and S. Thomas’ College played out a draw in their 139th Battle of the Blues Inter-school Big Match which concluded at the SSC Grounds in Maitland Place yesterday.
Even then, the Thomians had the final laugh as they were able to dominate the third day’s play with a fine all-round performance.
They first went on to declare their second innings with an impressive 227 for six wickets following an improved batting performance.
The Thomian top order really made amends for their first innings failure with the openers Dulith Gunaratane (59) and Shalin de Mel (57) putting on 107 runs.
Middle order batsman Sithara Hapuhinna consolidated their position with a 42-ball 47 as S. Thomas’ College closed their second innings leaving Royal a victory target of 216 runs.
However, Royal could not live up expectations and finished their second innings at 141 for six wickets with Kavindu Madarasinghe stroking an unbeaten half century inclusive of nine boundaries.
Preview: 139th Battle of the Blues even teams set for enthralling battle
BY M. SHAMIL AMIT
The 139th encounter of the uninterrupted glamour event of the schools cricket calendar – the Battle of the Blues between Royal College, Colombo and S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia – is scheduled to be played over the next three days starting today at the SSC grounds.
This is the second longest unbroken inter-school cricket encounter in the world after the St. Peter’s College and Prince Alfred College encounter in Adelaide, Australia which began in 1878, that has staved off two world wars.
The Thomians led by Dellon Peiris have remained unbeaten and have played 17 matches, recording six outright wins against Dharmapala, Zahira College, Maliydeva, Prince of Wales, Nalanda College and Lumbini MV with the rest ending in draws.
The Royalists led by Pasindu Sooriyabandara have played 20 matches recording six outright wins against Siri Piyaratana MMV Padukka, Dharmaraja College, Kegalu Vidyalaya, Piliyandala Central, Dharmasoka MV Ambalangoda and Wesley College but had their unbeaten record tarnished by St. John’s College Jaffna in the first match they played.
The Thomian skipper and all-rounder Peiris who has scored over 400 runs and taken 61 wickets. He will bank his hopes in the batting department on his three centurions Maneesh Rupasinghe, Manthila Wijeratne and Kishan Munasinghe
Right-handed batsman Rupasinghe is the top scorer of the side having made over 650 runs while Wijeratne has scored over 590 runs and Munasinghe has scored over 400 runs to his name.
The other batsman in form is left-hander Sithara Hapuhinna with over 550 runs to his name while skipper Peiris and another all-rounder Dulith Gunaratne who has made over 400 runs will have to make useful contributions for the side to make a challenging score.
The left-arm spin combination of Shannon Fernando with 67 wickets to his name and the sides’ top wicket taker and skipper Peiris will be the mainstay in their bowling department.
Left-arm spinner Kalana Perera who was unavailable in the early stages of the season, showed his bowling prowess with a five-wicket haul last week, with right-arm pacie Thevin Eriyagama and Pavith Ratnayake will be expected to support the duo to curtail their opponents.
Royal despite starting their campaign with a defeat enjoyed a fairly good season under the leadership of Sooriyabandara who at the start of the season was a bit shaky. But as the season progressed he came back into form and succeeded to end up as the highest run getter of the side accumulating over 1200 runs inclusive of two centuries and ten half tons.
The skipper has six other players who he can rely on to keep the Royal scoreboard ticking, in the likes of Kamil Mishara (700), Tharindu Senaratne (675), Bhagya Dissanayake (650), Gayan Dissanayake (600) and Kavindu Madarasinghe (550), but much will be expected from the other three centurions of the side Mishara, Thevindu and Dissanayake.
In the bowling department Royal too will bank on their spin pair spearheaded by left-arm spinner Manula Perera the top wicket-taker of the side with over 80 scalps, and right-arm spinner Mishara who has taken over 50 wickets with support being expected from right-arm pacies Dimal Wijesekera and Lahiru Madusanka.
The tally in the series is 35 wins for Royal coming out winners two years ago under the leadership of Geeshanth Pandithratne and 34 for S.thomas’having recorded their last win in the year 2007 when the side was led by Ashan Peiris.