Royal lunch for 'Thora'
Reid Avenue boys crushed by innings
By Bernie Wijesekera
It took only 40 minutes on day three for the Thomian demolishing squad to complete the job. What they started on day one with the first ball of the game, S Thomas' with a typical professional approach outplayed and outclassed their traditional rivals Royal to win their 126th Annual 'Battle of the Blues' by an innings and 28 runs at the SSC grounds, yesterday.

On Thursday Royal, who were sent in to bat, first made a total mess of the issue by crashing to a pathetic 94 runs in their first innings. After that weak-kneed batting display, Royal followed it up with another bad show with the ball by letting the Thomian batsmen dictate terms to their bowlers.

The Thomians made merry to make 348 for 6 at which score they declared. Allrounder Ashan Peiris weighed in with an aggressive and attractive 125 (with 15 fours and a six). Then Royal faced a deficit of 254 runs to avert an innings defeat. This meant that the Royal batsmen would have to come out with a right Royal performance.

Again their top order fell by the wayside by losing their top six batsmen with only a paltry 97 runs on the board. At one stage there was a gloomy spectacle of a three-day game ending under two days on Friday. The top order held limp bats. For S. Thoams' paceman Nigel Adams took two wickets in his third over with the first and second ball to send the Royal skipper Dimithri Siriwardena and Akila Bandara back to the dressing room.

Meanwhile opener Sukitha Senarath was joined by Dalanjaya Wijeratne. Sukitha, despite wickets falling at regular intervals, kept calm and played each ball on its own merit. This pair played the sheet anchor role. With Wijeratne batting with assurance, Royal seemed to be clawing back into the game.

The pair battled with grit and determination to put on 102 runs for the unbeaten seventh wicket. Royal went in at the end of the second day with a healthier looking total of 199 for 6 with Senaratne inching towards three figures at 92 not out and Dulanjaya Wijeratne on 39 not out.

Ironically Senaratne was bowled in the second ball of the first over hurled by Kularatne last morning to kill all hopes of a Royal recovery. To his credit Senaratne made a workman-like knock of 92 in 123 balls with 14 fours. A little later Wijeratne, who was batting with authority followed, being out for 48 made in 141 balls with six fours.

It took the Thomians only eight overs to wrap up the proceedings. Royal were all out for 218 at 10.40 a.m. The Thomian captain Balasubramaniam picked up three wickets to finish his memorable game with figures of 4 for 54. The last time the Thomians won by an innings was in 1999 under Naren Ratwatte. Now the Mt. Lavinia school takes the lead at 33 - 32.

"It was dismal batting on a pitch that gave equal opportunities for both batting and bowling. But the Royal batsmen lacked the application and concentration against an attack that had variety but (not extra ordinary) to revel on an easy paced pitch". This was opined by Mahinda Halangoda, who on the same venue, saved the Centenary match in 1979 when the Thomians were sitting on a bed of nails facing certain defeat.


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