The Rajans seem stronger on paper but their batting has shown unpredictability and this militates against their forcing a win over Kingswood in their 103rd Big Match at the Asgiriya Stadium on the 13th and 14th.
Five wins, but six losses against S. Thomas’, Royal, Trinity, Ananda, Maliyadeva and DS Senanayake show that this has been one of their worst seasons in years. Totals of 51, 64 and 80 show the batsmen in poor light.
It need not be so last year's skipper Buwaneka Ekanayake, who has almost reached a 1000, and Yapa Bandara are both good players who can produce the goods. Ekanayake has a proven Big Match record. New recruit Sandun Weerakkody has taken impressive strides and a big hundred against Isipathana reveals his talent. Skipper Pratap Silva, Rahula Ekanayake, Kalubowila and Munaweera add muscle to the batting.
Skipper Silva and Ekanayake (9-50 Vs Isipathana), both off spinners, carry the brunt of the bowling. Yapa Bandara, left arm, and Karunaratne (Medium pace) have also been among thspe wickets. Leg spinner Abeyrathne, if selected, will add variety. The Rajans will have to brush up their catching.
In the case of Kingswood, skipper Chalitha Dharmaprema (whose father Mangala Captained in 1986) spearheads the bowling with around 80 wickets. Another off spinner Kumarasiri also has a big bag of wickets. These two have done the bulk of the bowling. Hettige needs watching in his spell with the new ball. Apart from these three, the rest of the attack is mediocre.
The lack of an outright win and losses to Trinity, St. Anthony’s and Thurstan make this side from Randles Hill a little interior to the Rajans. But batsman such as Madhawa Maduranga, Udara Hettige and Kumarasiri has it in them to fight it out and provide stern opposition to the Rajans. Stumper Athukorale, the Dharmaprema Brothers, Seneviratne and Karunaratne are the others who can contribute. Kingswood has not won a Big Match since 1958 and their chances of putting the record straight are slim. Yet, with a longish batting line up, they could deny and frustrate their opponents.
Dharmaraja (From) – Pratap Silva (Capt.), Ramesh Yapa Bandara, Buwaneka Ekanayake, Rahula Ekanayake, Tharindu Dandeniya, Theekshana Wedagedera, Sanjay Kalubowila, Hemal Munaweera, Sandun Weerakkody, Nuwan Karunaratne, Kavinda Wijekoon, Chamalka Abeyrathne, Mayura Ratnayake, Tharaka Silva, Ruchira Rupasinghe. Coach – Senaka Dissanaike
Kingswood (From) – Chalitha Dharmaprema (Capt.) Udara Hettige, Madhawa Maduranga, Chathura Kumarasiri, Ashan Seneviratne, Hasitha Dharmaprema, Thilina Karunaratne, Yasindu Athukorale, Lahiru Gannoruwa, Raminda Sandaruwan, Chameera Weeratunga, Yohan Hemal, Subodha Premaratne, Thivanka Dolawatte, S. Rabel.
Coach – Priyantha Wickramasuriya