The 110th Battle of the North big match between St. John’s College Jaffna and Jaffna Central will begin tomorrow at the Jaffna Central grounds, Jaffna, and scheduled to end on till Sunday (12).
The Battle of the North is the oldest playing big match in the Jaffna peninsula and according to records from the 109 matches that have been played so far St. John’s are leading the series with 35 wins against the 27 for Jaffna Central with 39 drawn and one abandoned, while results of seven matches are not available.
Last year St. John’s came out as winners by 84 runs and in fact they have won it for the last two years as in the year 2014 they were awarded the win after the crowd invaded the field when they were on the verge of winning the encounter.
St. John’s led by fourth year coloursman Arulanantham Gnanamirthan have enjoyed a fairly successful season having played 17 matches securing four outright wins against Trinity College, Carey College, Jaffna Hindu College and Jaffna College Vaddukodai while losing two to P. de S. Kularatne MV Ambalangoda and St. Mary’s College Kegalle.
Jaffna Central’s last win in the series was achieved in 2011 winning it for the fifth successive year and led by the experienced fourth year player Sivapalasuntharam Alanraj too has had a fairly successful season having played 11 matches, recording five outright wins against Kokuvil Hindu College, St. Patrick’s College Jaffna, Jaffna Hindu College, Skandavarothaya Chunnakam and Malabe Boy’s School while losing two to Anuradhapura Central and St. Peter’s College Negombo.
But this time out even though the two teams seem to be balanced the Johnians are favoured due to the fact that they possess a strong batting line up also comprising of allrounders.
Skipper Gnanamirthan will have in his ranks two experienced players, both fourth year coloursmen, in Sebamalaipillai Jen Flemin and Vasanthan Jathusan and specially the former who has been in top form.
Beside the trio the Johnians posses a host of players in the caliber of Amarasena Herold Lasky, Kanagaratnam Kapilraj, Jeyakumar Kishanthujan, Chandramohan Thevaprashanth and Mahalingam Nilojan who are capable of making useful contributions in the batting and bowling departments.
They possess a strong batting outfit which will be spearheaded by Jeni Flemin who was adjudged the man of the match in last year’s clash. Jeni Flemin has been in top form and consistent this season having scored two tons one against Jaffna Hindu College and the other which last week against St. Patrick’s.
Gnanamirtha, Thevaprashanth who has scored a ton also against Jaffna Hindu along with Krishanthujan, and Sivagnanam Dinojan will be others the Johnians will be expecting to perform.
The bowling will be in the hands of skipper and left arm spinner Gnanamirthan who has been their main wicket taker this season with a best bowling return of 7 for 39 against P de S. Kularatne MV. Vasanthan another left arm spinner too has been in the wickets for the side this season and he along with Nilojan and Kapilaraj will be expected to give the support while right arm pacies Thuvarakaseelan and Kanagaratnam Kapilraj the fresher of the side and the two opening bowlers.
Jaffna Central led by the experience Sivapalasuntharam Alanraj virtually has a new look side but they have five centurions in the side in deputy skipper S. Komethagan, Y. Kirubakaran, A. Jeroshan, S. Katheeban and U. Priyalaxshan who is a good allrounder. They too possess a fairly strong batting line up and would no doubt give the Johnian bowlers a torrid time.
Their bowling will be spearheaded by right arm paices Priyalaxshan and Kirubakaran with skipper and right arm spinner Alanraj, pacies Kartheebanand and Jeroshan’s support being crucial for them to restrict the Johnian batting.
The Centralite batsmen will have to do something extra-ordinary in both the batting and bowling department if they are hoping to give their opponents some challenge. However looking back at the performances of the two teams this season it points out to being a keenly contested game with the scales in favour of the Johnians.
The limited over match preceding the three-day game is scheduled to be played on March 19 at St John’s ground. This will be the 14th in the series with Jaffna Central who won it last year in front with seven wins to the six by St John’s.