World record-holder Mahanama Observer Schoolboy Cricketer in 1983
By A. C. de Silva
Roshan Mahanama - The Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the year
in 1983 and his performances were such that the umpires of the
Association of Cricket Umpires (Sri Lanka) picked him for the
same honour in 1984.
CRICKET: In cricketing circles in recent times, the name of Roshan
Mahanama stands out like a beacon, both at inter-school level and even
at the higher level among Test playing countries in the world.
Born on 31st May in 1966, Roshan Mahanama blessed out as a opening
batsman and he was able to fit in at any position even lower down the
order, as he was such a capable batsman who could adapt himself to any
condition prevailing on that particular day.
So, with such wonderful promise that he held out as a schoolboy at
Nalanda College, it was no surprise that he would climb the ladder of
success - and climb he did in inter-school cricket seasons and it was no
surprise that the judges in the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year
Contests, he was picked as Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year for two years
in succession in 1983 and 1984.
The high point of his school career was his splendid unbeaten knock
of 145 runs in the ‘Big Match’ against Ananda which established a record
when he captained the team in 1984. Subsequently, however, the record
has been improved on by another Nalandian Shantha Kalavitigoda in 1997.
The story didn’t end there. His early promise as a schoolboy
cricketer bore fruit later and Roshan Siriwardene Mahanama went on to
play for Sri Lanka in Tests with much distinction and after establishing
records on the way, he went further still and was absorbed into the
panel of International Match Referees in April 2004. Right now, Ranjan
Madugalle and Roshan Mahanama are carrying Sri Lanka’s flag flying as
Sri Lanka’s International match referees.
As mentioned, Mahanama played for Nalanda before getting into the big
league of playing for Sri Lanka in one-day internationals and later in
The star with the trophy ... Roshan Mahanama with the trophy
that he got in 1984. He was also the Observer Schoolboy
Cricketer of the year in 1983.
Roshan Mahanama’s illustrious international career started when he
played in the one-day series against the visiting Pakistan team led by
Imran Khan in March 1986. He scored 15 not out and 22 in the two
‘one-dayers’ that were played, but more importantly, he was selected as
the best fielder of the series (in his very first international
exposure) for his fine fieldings.
He was first picked for the Test team and asked to open the batting
for Sri Lanka - a role he was not accustomed to in any form of cricket
till then, but took up the challenge very well and was associated in a
40-run opening stand (before being run out by a direct hit when he was
10 runs) with Sidath Wettimuny, who ironically was the Chairman of the
selection committee that decided not to include Roshan in the national
Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 8 wickets in that Test match, thus Roshan
Mahanama had the rare honour of being a part of a winning team on the
very first occasion he played in a Test match.
Roshan has been the regular opening batsman for the country, until in
1995 when he was pushed down the order to make way for the Sanath
Jayasuriya - Romesh Kaluwitharana formula which Sri Lanka successfully
implemented to win the World Cup.
In 1994, Mahanama was picked to lead Sri lanka on a tour to Sharjah
when two senior players withdrew in protest over a fitness test issue.
His leadership qualities on that occasion was deeply appreciated for the
discipline and the unity he instilled among his young men.
The high point in Roshan’s Test career was undoubtedly the world
record partnership of 576 runs along with the former Sri Lanka captain
Sanath Jayasuriya in the 2nd Test against India at the R. Premadasa
Stadium in 1997-98. Mahanama made his highest score of 225 runs in the
match in a world record innings total of 952 for 6 wickets - and this
record holds good even after 11 years. Jayasuriya went on to score a
Mahanama has played in 52 Tests and scored 2,579 runs. His highest
individual score was that magnificent knock of 225 in that world-record
breaking partnership of 576 runs with Sanath Jayasuriya against India.
Altogether he has made four centuries and made 35 half-centuries for an
average of 29.27. It is well worth recording that memorable total of 952
for 6 wickets in the Test against India here at the R. Premadasa
Batsmen called the tune and after five days of exhilarating batting
where only 14 wickets fell, India made 537 for 8 wickets declared and
Sri Lanka replied with the world record total of 952 for 6 wickets off
Roshan will also be remembered for his enduring knock of 153 runs to
score the 3rd Test win with the Indians at the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium
in 1993, having undergone a minor operation on his to after conclusion
of the three days play.
The mammoth partnership of 576 runs between Mahanama and Jayasuriya
was surpassed in July 2006 as the biggest partnership in Test history by
fellow Sri Lankans Kumara Sangakkara and present Sri Lanka skipper
Mahela Jayawardene who put on 624 against South Africa.
Mahanama’s other significant batting achievements in Test cricket
were back to back hundreds 153 and 109 against New Zealand in the home
series in 1992.
Mahanama’s invaluable contribution to Sri Lanka’s greatest cricket
achievement to date, the World Cup win in 1996, can be considered as the
pinnacle of his one-day international career spanning 13 years.
His scores in the only two matches he got the opportunity to bat in
that triangular World Cup were (a) an unbeaten 22 runs against England
in the quarter-finals and (b) a stylish 58 runs scored under trying
circumstances before retired hurt in the all-important semi-final with
India after coming into bat with the total at 35 for 3 wickets bear
ample testimony on how vital his part was in that great team effort.
Altogether, Mahanama played in 52 Tests and 213 One-Day
Internationals, scoring 2,576 runs in Tests and 5,162 runs in ODIs. In
Tests he had four hundreds and 11 half-centuries. The top score is Tests
was that memorable 225 against India at the R. Premadasa Stadium while
in One-Day Internationals his top scored was 119 not out.
He was also undoubtedly one of the best fielders in the world.
Roshan Mahanama had done his country proud and left a lasting
impression in the minds of Sri Lankan fans with his fine performances.
INDIA - 1ST INNINGS
537 for 8 wkts. dec.
SRI LANKA - 1ST INNINGS
S. T. Jayasuriya c Ganguly b Chauhan 340
M. S. Atapattu c Mongia b Kulkarni 26
Roshan Mahanama lbw b Kumble 225
P. A. de Silva c Prasad b Ganguly 126
A. Ranatunga run out 86
M. Jayawardena c Kulkarni b Ganguly 66
R. S. Kaluwitharana not out 14
Chaminda Vaas not out 11
EXTRAS: (B-27, LB-10, W-7, NB-14) 58
TOTAL: (for 6 wkts at stumps) 952
DID NOT BAT: R. Pushpakumara, M. Muralitharan, K. J. Silva.
BOWLING: Prasad 24-1-88-0 (W-4), Kuruvila 14-2-74-0 (NB-4),
Chauhan 78-8-276-1 (W-3, NB-5), Kumble 72-7-223-1 (NB-5),
Kulkarni 70-10-195-1, Ganguly 9-0-53-2, Tendulkar 2-1-2-0, Dravid 2-0-4-0.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Sanath Jayasuriya.