ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 16, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 42

Nature’s fury halts game

By Harry Jayachandra

The rain revellers had a field day too and later they were joined by the fairer sex, as the SSC grounds was turned into a huge mud-pool. Pix by Saman Kariyawasam

Mother Nature intervened to ensure what might have been a close finish to the annual Royal-Thomian encounter yesterday at the SSC grounds when the heaven's opened in the middle of the afternoon and caused a deluge.

A sporty declaration by the Royalists, who came in as the under-dogs to the game only to turn tables in Day 1 and Day 2 gave the Thomians an option of chasing 244 runs to win in 71 overs (at the rate of less than 3.5 runs an over) in fading light and overcast skies. It could have been anyone's call but S. Thomas' opted that safety is the better part of valour. Their opening bats revved up proceedings however to score 59 without loss when the unusual rains for this time of year came down with a vengeance to put paid to any result.

Instead of declaring at their overnight score, the Thomians continued for further 36 minutes before Dinesh Walpita was trapped for 36 by right arm seamer Hettiarachchi. Walpita along with Nilshan Fernando put on 57 for the last wicket. Fernando remained unbeaten on 16. Last morning the two batted for a further 36 minutes adding 17 runs in the process.

Royal on their part started aggressively from the outset in their second innings, looking for an unlikely victory. With a lead of 100 plus from the first innings, they seemed to feel that 250 was a safe bet to put the Thomians to test. They closed their second innings 141 for 6.

Royal's approach was even more commendable given they got off to bad start - just like in the first innings. Opener Chalaka Bogoda was trapped plumb in front without a run on the board off the bowling of Ruchira De Silva. His partner Hettiarachchi followed with just 13 runs on the board when he attempted an expensive stroke only to be bowled by Naveed Ghany. Ghany was impressive getting the ball to swing both ways on a relatively placid surface.

Other than for a few blemishes, the Thomians were exemplary while bowling and fielding. Their bowlers gave away only 3 extras as opposed to Royal's 35 in the first innings.

Following Hettiarachchi's dismissal Sri Lankan Under 19 player and wicket keeper for Royal Kushal Perera and Bhanuka Rajapakse put on 47 runs for the third wicket in even time. Walpita got the breakthrough for Thomians when he induced Rajapakse to mis-tie a pull shot which was well taken by captain Jehan Thahir for 26.

Guess who. Streaker or stripper?

If the Thomians were expecting a respite from a right royal onslaught, it was not to be. First innings centurion, Charith Fernando joined Perera and these two put on 31. Perera was deceived by seamer Nilshan Fernando and was caught in front for 41 runs. Kithruwan Vithanage joined Fernando at the crease. Vithanage was quite content to play second fiddle as Fernando flayed the bowling to all parts of the field. Thahir introduced himself in to the attack and immediately scalped Vithanage at which point lunch was taken with Royal on 121 for 5.

Royal's skipper Dilan Nanayakkara, accompanied Fernando out to the middle following the interval. These two put on 20 runs for the sixth wicket in just 1.4 overs before Fernando got too adventurous and holed out to cover off the bowling of Thahir for an entertaining 41 runs.

Nanayakkara remained unbeaten on 13 while his opposite number Thahir though conceding 15 runs in 1.1 overs was the most successful bowler with two scalps.

Though Royal tried to force a decision with their bold declaration, the Thomians started off their second essay the way the ended the first. They laboured to 59 with out losing a wicket when the umpires offered the two batsmen the light which they accepted promptly and shortly after the skies opened up.

Members only, it’s a private party

There was a bit of a buzz doing the rounds of the staid Mustangs tent at the Royal-Thomian cricket match when Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona brought in four foreign diplomats to the Members Only enclosure. Old Mustangs, the elder brothers of the Royal-Thomian Colts and Stallions are very jealous of their membership, and usually don't like 'outsiders’. But then again, they can be flexible, like most Sri Lankans.

Dr. Kohona brought in US Ambassador Robert Blake, Indian High Commissioner Aloka Prasad, Pakistan High Commissioner Shahazard Chaudrey (sp.) and Canadian High Commissioner Angela Bogdan to watch the second oldest unbroken cricket match in the world - even though some of them knew nothing of the wonderful game.


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