Memorable moments of the “Maroon Battles” of yesteryear | Daily News

Memorable moments of the “Maroon Battles” of yesteryear

The significant difference in this Battle of the Maroons cricketing encounter is the friendly atmosphere not only in the ground but also off the field as supporters of both schools have used this opportunity to strengthen their friendship and co-operation. This unique gesture of course is a real example to others as well.

This Battle of the Maroons brings back undying memories of other “Battles” that thrilled us in yesteryears.

One such memorable occasion that comes to mind is the second day of play in that gutty clash of the Maroons in the year 1963, when Nalanda was faced with a challenge task of making 114 runs in 90 minutes of play after tea, without the present day 20 mandatory overs. This match saw a great display of batting by Nihal de Silva and Mahinda Bogalagama who cut, glanced and dispatched the ball to all parts of the Oval with fours and sixes.

Nalanda who faced defeat would have won the day had jubilant spectators not invaded the field.

In 1965, the Nalanda team consisting of greats, like Shanthi Peiris, Laksman Jayawardana, Wasantha Seneviratne, Cholmondeley Amarasekara were bundled out by the spin and the medium pace of Ananda’s AG Perera and Lalith Gunaratne, preventing Nalanda from getting the 144 runs from lunch time.

In 1966 Anura de Silva of Nalanda, in his nervous nineties, could not steady himself to complete the century, offering a catch to Tilak de Silva.

Another glorious flashback is the impeccable mastery of batting by Sunil Wettimuny of Ananda in 1968 when he scored a scintillating 96 with drives all along the ground not lifting the ball depicting his masterly technicalities of the game. Yet while set for a glorious century the rush of blood made him lift the ball for a six and was caught at deep midwicket by Leslie Narangoda off the bowling of Anura de Silva. Such was the penalty for haste.

In that same encounter, the two Seneviratne brothers Palitha and Jayantha kept the spectators spell-bound by their display of batting when they amassed the almost impossible score of 102 to rescue Nalanda from defeat, personifying the grit and determination required when faced with defeat.

My thoughts take me to the clashes of the year 1972 when both Ananda and Nalanda were studded with fiery bowlers such as HDK Subash, Ajith de Silva, Priyantha Seneviratne, USI Perera (Ananda) came down on the Nalandians when Bandula Warnapura heroically faced the barrage of bowling to break a 46-year-old record of 111, by scoring 118. He established a first wicket partnership of 129 runs with Nalin Jayasinghe. Determination was the hallmark of these batsmen.

The 1973 encounter spearheaded by Priyanka Seneviratne (Ananda) and Dammika Samarawickrama was another unforgettable battle between bat and ball. When Ananda having scored 162 in the first innings and Nalanda 241 put in Ananda to bat with a first innings lead of 79 runs.

The fireworks started when Wasantha Chandrasekera took the wicket of Lalith Ranatunga before scoring and the scoreboard reading 0-1.

The next four Nalandian stroke makers were dismissed for a paltry 15 runs by speed merchants Palitha Amarasekera and Wasantha Chandrasekera who were at the height of form and capable of dismissing the tailenders for even less than 15 runs.

But the rain that came down in buckets rescued Ananda from a humiliating defeat. I have still to see the likes of Palitha Amarasekara and Wasantha Chadrasekara. When will there be another pair of that cricketing calibre.

The year 1975 saw the bowling display by young Anura Ranasinghe who broke the 35 year old record of P W Perera (8 for 51) by taking eight Anandian wickets for 36 runs. He entered the score book as the bowler with the most number of wickets in an innings up to then. Anura Ranasinghe followed this bowling feat with a sparkling score of 47 runs. His display of batting was ended by a fantastic catch taken by Kushil Gunasekara which brought the spectators to their feet, applauding the magical manner of the superb catch.

In 1978 Prasanna Amarasinghe lowered the record of Bandula Warnapura by scoring 126 runs.

This encounter was full of batting prowess. Susantha Karunaratna, Anura Ranasinghe, Bandula de Silva and Roshan Gunaratna making lavish scores that took to pieces the Nalanda attack. My mind goes back to 1982 when a fresher Manjula Thenuwara skittled the Nalanda brigade by his unpredictable spin which sent seven Nalandians back to the pavilion.

Then 1984 was an unforgettable year for Nalanda when that indomitable schoolboy, the cricketing prodigy Roshan Mahanama created an indelible record of 145.

My memory harks back to the Big Match of 1997.

Nalanda were badly placed at 56 for 3. Then came the classic innings of Nalanda skipper Shantha Kalawitigoda which lit up the grounds. He scored a brilliant 149 off 150 balls in 165 minutes bettering the record held by Sri Lanka Test cap Roshan Mahanama of 145. Kalawitigoda’s innings had 17 boundaries. Kalawitigoda and fresher Mevan Porage went on to make a useful fifth wicket stand of 114 runs in 81 minutes. Porage, usually a hard-hitter of the ball, played the patient partner to his inform captain Kalawitigoda, scoring 28 runs in 92 minutes. Porage’s tolerant innings serves as an example for young up and coming cricketers.



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