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Sunday, 3 March 2013

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Both Royal and S. Thomas’ can provide high entertainment

When two evenly poised teams like royal College and S. Thomas College battle for supremacy in their ‘big’ game who will battle cricket in their 134th encounter, something extraordinary should be produced from either side for a favourable result.

Most people believe it is the side that does better than the other on the particular day, will hold the key to press home the advantage. Five years have passed since the last win in 2007 by S. Thomas’ while Royal won in the previous year 2006.


Royal College.... Seated from left: Dilip Somaratne (Director Cricket), M.T.A. Rauff (Senior Games Master, Vice Principal Co-Curricular Activities), Heshan Kumarasiri, Devin Pathmanathan (Captain), Upali Gunasekera (Principal), G.D.S. Keerthisena (Vice Principal), Milan Abeysekera (Vice Captain), Imal Liyanage, E.G.M. Rajakaruna (Master In Charge), Neil Rajapakse (Coach). Standing middle row from left: Poorna Aluthge, Anupa Tillekeratne, Chanuka Karunaratne, Sampath de Silva, Roanaka Ahangamage, Isuru Gunatileka. Back row standing from left: Navin Nimesh, Dulip Hettiarachchie, Shanaka Dias, Sahnuka Kodituwakku, Lasith Embuldeniya, Akshan Gajaba, Hashen Ramanayake, Randev Pathirana, Harith Samarasinghe, Geeshat Panditharatne. Pic: Chinthaka Kumarasinghe


S. Thomas’ College: (Seated from left): Lakmaal de Zoysa (MIC), Vijitha de Silva (POG), Madushan Ravichandrakumar, Prof. Indra de Soysa (Warden), Javed Bongso (Captain), Rev. Mark Billiomoria (Sub-Warden), Chadrasiri Fonseka (Physical trainer), Pauththuwadura Milton (Coach). Centre row standing (from left): Ishan Kularatne, Ravindu Tillekeratne, Danush Peiris, Devin Jayasinghe, Ramith Gunaratne, Thilaksha Sumanasiri, Dilum Fernando, Sanesh de Mel, Deelaka Herath. Back row standing (from left): Helakamal Nanayakkara, Nipuna Gamage, Kulunu Rodrigo, Akthab Abdul Cader, Sahan Wijesinghe, Usman Ishak, Shiven Perera.

Scanning through this year’s performances of both schools, both teams possess the ingredients to provide the necessary entertainment for the numbers that flock to the Sinhalese Sports Club grounds on March 7, 8 and 9. The match provides a festival atmosphere as it is one of the oldest cricket encounters in the world between two traditionally rival schools.

Royal last won in 2006 under Nadun Punchihewa and the Thomians came back fighting the following year (2007) under Ashan Peiris to beat the Royalists by an innings. Since then, there have been five consecutive drawn encounters.

The Royalists came very close of winning the 2009 match, but a mammoth rear guard action by the Thomian second-wicket pair of Fahim Saleem (165) and the captain Ravichandra Niroshan (100) defied the Royal bowling for ten hours and forty four minutes, adding 232 for the second wicket which virtually sealed the chances of a Royal win.

Thomians – not a happy start

The Thomians who usually begin their school cricket season early in the third term did not have the best of starts.

They opened the season with an innings win against Mahinda, Galle but lost to the other school from Galle - Richmond by 9 wickets. Madushan Ravichandrakumar who was the appointed captain, was replaced by his deputy Javed Bongso.

The change of captaincy seemed to have had a positive effect in the team and the Thomians have now gradually found their way to become a force to be reckoned with as the season progressed.

Royal, on the other hand, too, had a few hick-ups when they lost some of their key players due to illness and injuries early in the season.

Royal captain Devin Pathmanathan had to skip at least three matches due to illness which prompted the side to miss one of the promising left-arm leg-spinners in the school cricket arena.

He had taken more than 44 wickets and scored over 250 runs prior, to his illness during the season.

Besides skipper Pathmanathan, the deputy and the wicket keeper of the side Milan Abeysekera has been among the runs scoring 680.

Hashen Ramanayake, the son of former Sri Lanka Test fast bowler Champaka has also been among the runs with over 700 against his name.

Ramanayake – from bowling to batting

Ramanayake started as a medium fast bowler, but now is doing well as a batsman. Poorna Aluthge who will be Pathmanathn’s spin partner, is also another impressive performer with bat and ball.

Aluthge a bowling allrounder, has over 250 runs and taken over 60 wickets and has been the main spinner during the absence of Pathmanathan.

The batting hopes of Royal should squarely rest on the shoulders of Milan Abeysekera, Isuru Gunatileka, Heshan Kumarasiri who has scored three centuries and Ronaka Ahangama who sprang into form in the last game against Prince of Wales, striking a timely 57 and 142.

He has done the bulk of the scoring for the season.

Royal has won four matches outright, against Isipathana, St. Anthony’s Katugastota, Dharmaraja, Thurstan and remained unbeaten during the season.

The Thomians lost to Richmond, but defeated Mahinda and St. John’s College, Jaffna and drawn the rest.

Thomians depend on Bongso

For the Thomians, their batting will heavily revolve round their captain Javed Bongso. He missed the chance of scoring a century (97) in last year’s match and this year too, he will have to come up with an exemplary batting display to pose any threat to their opponents.

He will have the services of a fairly experienced batting line up to follow with Ravichandrakumar, Thilaksha Sumanasiri, Devin Jayasinghe who can also bowl, to follow. Bongso, Sumanasiri and Jayasinghe have all scored hundreds.

The Thomians are armed with an impressive left-arm leg spinner Ranindu Tillekeratne who has taken 25 wickets with the best figures of 6 for 38. Ranindu is the son of former Sri Lanka Test skipper Hashan Tillekeratne. The Royalists will have to watch him closely.

Best performers

The highest individual score in the series is held by Sumithra Warnakulasuriya of Royal College who went on to score a marathon 197 in 1990. For the Thomians, Duleep Mendis - the former Sri Lanka captain, struck a whirlwind 184 in 1972. Rochana Jayawardena (Royal) has the best all-round performance of 145 n.o and a match bag of (9 for 73.) (4 and 5 wickets each in both innings in 1983).

Teams:

Royal College (From): Devin Pathmanathan (Captain), Milan Abeysekera (Vice Captain), Imal Liyanage, Heshan Kumarasiri, Chamika Karunaratne, Poorna Aluthge, Isuru Gunatileka, Sampath de Silva, Anupa Tillekeratne, Ronaka Ahangama, Hashen Ramanayake, Harith Samarasinghe, Lasith Embuldeniya, Shaminda Dias, Geeshath Panditharatne, Randev Pathirana, Dulith Hettiarchchi and Shanaka Kodituwakku.

S. Thomas’ College (from): Javed Bongso (Captain), Madushan Ravichandrakumar (V. Captain), Ishan Kularatne, Ravindu Tillekeratne, Danush Peiris, Devin Jayasinghe, Ramith Gunaratne, Thilaksha Sumanasiri, Dilum Fernando, Sanesh de Mel, Deelaka Herath, Helakamal Nanayakkara, Nipuna Gamage, Kulunu Rodrigo, Akthab Abdul Cader, Sahan Wijesinghe, Usman Ishak and Shiven Perera.

 

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