Team that absorbs pressure best will finish on top | Daily News
140th Battle of the Blues at SSC from today

Team that absorbs pressure best will finish on top

Rival captains Kavindu Madarasinghe of Royal and Sithara Hapuhinna of S Thomas’ with the D. S. Senanayake Memorial Shield. Picture by Herbert Perera
Rival captains Kavindu Madarasinghe of Royal and Sithara Hapuhinna of S Thomas’ with the D. S. Senanayake Memorial Shield. Picture by Herbert Perera

The 140th Battle of the Blues three-day contest between Royal College and S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia will unfold with the usual comradeship at the SSC grounds with the Thomians holding the edge over their opponents due to their recent purple patch leading upto today’s encounter.

This match is played for the prestigious D.S. Senanayake Memorial Shield. The shield first presented in 1928 is currently held by Royal College after they won the 137th Battle of the Blues in 2016 and drawing the next two.

Three days of exciting cricket can be expected from these two major schools with Royal trying hard to turn tables on the Thomians and retain the shield which they won in 2016 under the captaincy of Geeshath Panditharatne.

Of the 139 matches played so far, Royal leads the tally with 35 wins while the Thomians have won on 34 occasions and 70 matches have ended in draws.

The Thomians last won the Battle of the Blues under the leadership of Ashan Peiris in 2007. They are led this year by wicket keeper cum opening batsman Sithara Hapuhinna and have registered six outright wins and are unbeaten.

Veteran cricket coach Dinesh Kumarasinghe who is the Thomian head coach said, “We got a balanced team and done really well to secure six outright wins and remain unbeaten for the season. But when it comes to a Royal-Thomian, it’s a totally different game since it’s played over three days. Unfortunately we could not win the game last year due to bad weather. This time we are going out in a positive manner to create a win for the college.”

Highest run getter for the Mount Lavinia boys is their skipper Hapuhinna who has scored nearly 850 runs. Left hander Shalin de Mel has also shown great form scoring over 650 runs and Ravindu de Silva nearly 500 runs. Among the others who are capable of keeping the scoreboard moving are Sri Lanka national under 19 player cum left hander Kalana Perera (close to 450 runs) , Umayanga Swaris (over 400 runs) along with batsman Deon Fernando (the younger brother of Shanon Fernando) who has nearly 400 runs.

Kalana Perera is the highest Thomian wicket-taker this season with 76 wickets. Last year’s skipper Dellon Peiris, who has a total of nearly 74 wickets, Dilmin Ratnayake 39 wickets along with another left arm leg spinner Shannon Fernando who has 36 wickets to his credit are expected to bowl the Thomians to victory.

Royal has emerged victorious on five occasions this season being unbeaten as well and they will be led by top order batsman cum last year’s big match saviour left hander Kavindu Madarasinghe, who is also the wicket keeper of the side.

Royal head coach Jehan Mubarak was confident of his team performing well. “We have a very young and a balance side this year. The team is willing to give of their best in this big game. I have represented Royal in the Big Match and what I could say is that when it comes to a Roy-Tho it’s a different ball game. Hence whoever who absorb pressure on that day will come out on top.”

The pillars of the Royal batting are last year’s skipper and Sri Lanka under 19 cricketer right hander Pasindu Sooriyabandara who has scored close to 850 runs.

Besides Sooriyabandara, the other Royalists who have scored heavily this season are Ahan Wickramasinghe and Isiwara Dissanayake both with over 700 runs each, while another Sri Lanka national under 19 player left hander Kamil Mishara has scored over 500 runs with right hander Bhagya Dissanayake chipping in with nearly 400 runs. They will be expected to make their contributions to bolster the Royal scoreboard.

Royal could boast of many bowlers who have performed really well with left-arm spinner Gishan Balasuriya heading the honours list with close to 50 wickets, off spinner Kawshan Kulasooriya 35 wickets, left arm spinner Manula Perera close to 30 wickets and Kamil Mishara the off-spinner capturing nearly 20 wickets. Hence they could keep their options open when it comes to their bowling department.

 


 

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