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By Chris Dhambarage
The star-studded Richmond College Team will start favourites when they confront the traditional rivals Mahinda College in the 112th Lovers’ Quarrel Inter-Schools Big Match which will be worked off on March 17 and 18 at the Galle Stadium.
Richmond led by Sri Lanka youth player Kamindu Mendis have enjoyed a splendid season this year where they were able to secure the top position in Group ‘A’ while competing in the Inter-Schools Under-19 Division One Tournament.
In addition, Richmond have reached the semi-finals of the Under-19 Division One Limited Over Tournament and also the quarter-finals of the Division One 2-day Tournament.
In contrast, Mahinda have struggled throughout the season to put up a decent performance and they are also still searching for their first victory of the current season.
However, there seem to be some hope for Mahinda in the Big Match considering the fact that they were able to produce an excellent batting performance during their last three outings of the tournament.
The Mahindians after going through a pretty ordinary season picked up their batting form during the latter stages and went on to make scores of over 300 runs in the last four outings.
This was no doubt an encouraging performance from Mahinda considering the fact that it also lifted their morale and the confidence needed to face their more fancied opponents.
In fact, Richmond will once again look to maintain their dominance over their rivals with another fine all-round performance in this Big Match.
They underlined their superiority in almost every outing this year and were able to record four outright victories in the most comprehensive manner.
The outstanding performance of Skipper Mendis has certainly given Richmond the edge over their rivals and they will be looking to conclude the season on a high note.
The only obstacle for Richmond in this Big Match seems to be the bad weather which has quite often played spoil sportduring the current Inter-Schools season.
Even then, Mahindahave always faced the Big Match with a lot of determination and on many occasions they have come out with a spirited performance despite going in as the underdogs.
Richmond College (from): Kamindu Mendis (Captain), Chamikara Hewage (Vice-Captain),Thilanga Udeeshana, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Avindu Theekshana, Sathsara Kumara, Duveen Kalansooriya, Vinuja Kiriella, Ravishkam Wijesiri, Thisara Divan, Adhithya Siriwardena, Kasun Tharaka, Thaveesha Abhishek, Sandun Mendis and Vishmitha Wijesiri
Mahinda College (from): Hansika Welihinda (Captain), Roshan Kavinda (Vice Captain), Venura Dulsara, Navod Paranavithana, Ashan Kandambi, Pasindu Hettiarachchi, Kasitha Sankesh, Kalindu Shresara, Kavindu Ediriweera, Aveska Kalupahana, Prameeth Thevarapperuma, Nupun Malinga, Pasan Pethiyagoda, K.K. Kevin, Thilina Nisansala, Prageeth Gunathilake and Chamara Sandaruwan.
Defending champions Ananda College underwent some anxious moments and had to dig deep to overcome Richmond College by 24 runs in the final of the 4th Murali Harmony Cup at the IODR Oval in Oddusuddan yesterday to retain the title for yet another year.
Richmond the runners-up last year had to play second fiddle again and they will have to blame themselves as they faltered after being in a winning position and were left ruing a spectacular late collapse having appeared to be on course for victory mid-way through their run chase.
Ananda the only unbeaten side in the tournament struggled with the bat after winning the toss and electing to take first lease of the wicket and managed to post a modest 137 runs.
They started positively with a 31-run opening stand but then lost three quick wickets, slumping to 32 for 3 and then 50 for 4. Throughout the tournament their middle order, led by the outstanding Kaveeshka Anjula (28), had rescued Ananda but this time they could not fully repair the top order damage.
Richmond also started unconvincingly, slipping to 32 for 3, before Kalindu Siriwardana steadied the innings with 36 from 35 balls. With Richmond sitting pretty on 84 for 3 in the 12th over the game looked lost for Ananda but then Krishan Anjula’s dismissal of Siriwardana sparked a collapse.
Seven wickets tumbled for just 29 runs and Ananda were left jubilant for the second consecutive year. Dinuka Jayaratne was outstanding with the ball for Ananda, taking 3 for 10 from his four overs to follow a useful 26 off 22 balls earlier in the afternoon which earned him the player of the final award.
Ananda 137 for 8 in 20 overs (Krishan Anjula 28, Dinuka Jayaratne 26, Rahal Avishka 20, Lahiru Attanayake 19: Avindu Theekshana 2 for 25, K.K. Kaveen 2 for 27)
Richmond 113 in 18.5 overs (Kalindu Siriwardena 36, Kamindu Mendis 21, Dhananjaya Lakshan 20, Pasindu Bimsara 15: Dinuka Jayaratne 3 for 20, Supun Waragoda 2 for 20, Krishan Anjula 2 for 32, Achila Iranga 2 for 34)