Two of the country’s most prestigious schools–Royal College and S. Thomas’ College– will battle it out in the 137th Battle of Blues beginning from Thursday (March 10) at the SSC grounds.
The encounter deemed to be the second oldest inter-schools match to be played in the world after St. Peter’s College and Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, Australia which began in 1878 also has the honour of staving off two World Wars which did not prevent this game from being played.
This time out the scales are very much in favour the seaside boys who have remained unbeaten while Royal has had their unbeaten record tarnished from the 21 matches that the two schools have played this season, in the run-up to their traditional match.
The tally in the series is 34 wins each with Royal coming out winners in 2013 under the leadership of Devin Pathmanathan while S. Thomas’ recorded their last win in the year 2007 when the side was led by Ashan Peiris.
S. Thomas’ led by Sachitha Jayatileke and coached by Dinesh Kumarasinghe are having one of their best seasons having recorded seven outright wins which is their best in the schools cricket history spanning nearly 140 years. The seven outright wins they recorded were against St. Anthony’s Katugastota, St. Joseph Vaz Wennappuwa, President’s Kotte, St. Benedict’s, Wesley, Nalanda and De Mazenod while securing first innings wins against Prince of Wales, Dharmapala, St. John’s Jaffna, DSS, St. Sylvester’s, Ananda, St. Peter’s, St. Sebastian’s, Trinity and Richmond and they lost on first innings to Thurstan, Richmond and St. Joseph’s.
Royal led by Geeshath Panditharatne on the other hand have been able to record only four outright wins against Royal Panadura, St. Anthony’s Katugastota, St. Joseph’s and De Mazenod. However they had their unbeaten record tarnished by Trinity.
Royal recorded first innings wins over St. John’s Jaffna, Richmond, Thurstan, St. Sebastian’s, Zahira, Mahanama Colombo, Ananda, St. Benedict’s, Maris Stella, Prince of Wales, Wesley and St. Aloysius and conceded first innings wins to St. Peter’s, Mahinda and Isipathana.
The two teams are oozing with talented players with the Thomian skipper Sachitha having in his ranks four centurions. He has the services of players in the caliber of Rashmika Opatha their top run getter this season who has scored over 850 runs inclusive of two tons and five half tons, Yohan Mendis (over 750 runs with a ton and four half tons), Ravindu Kodituwakku (over 700 runs with a ton and four half tons), Dilendra Gunatilke the other centurion who also has five half tons under his belt and skipper Sachitha himself who has made over 750 runs with seven half tons. Down the order there is Romesh Nallaperuma and Ravindu Tilekeratne who are capable of making useful contributions. So their batting has the depth and they have been in the forefront when the Thomians expected the best from them. It is left to be seen how they will confront the Royal bowlers in this crucial game.
The bowling will no doubt be spearheaded by skipper and left arm spinner Sachitha who has been their top wicket taker this season with over 75 scalps to his credit and with Ravindu Tilekeratne (59 wickets) could be the duo who would be the trouble makers for the Royal batsmen. Support will be expected from Dellon Peiris who has taken over 40 wickets, Senal de Silva 39 wickets, Dineth Kannangara 31 wickets and Yohan Perera to curtail the Royal batting.
Royal will pin their hopes on skipper Geeshath and his deputy Tiran Dhanapala who both have scored over 1000 runs. Geeshath tops their batting with over 1100 runs which includes three tons and three half tons while Tiran’s 1000 has four tons and four half tons.
The bowling attack will revolve around their top wicket taker and left arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya who is also the leading wicket taker this season having taken 118 wickets. He will be the thorn in the flesh of the Thomian batting. The two teams fight out the match for the D.S. Senanayake memorial shield and the match is sponsored by one of the island’s top mobile phone service providers Dialog Axiata.