An Anthonian victory in the 93rd Big Match commencing on March 12 at Asgiriya will increase their tally of wins to 14 as opposed to Trinity’s 22. However this is not logical and defies belief.
The Trinitians take the field with the confidence that stems from having had one of the most successful seasons in recent times.
St. Anthony’s (From) – Dulash Kumarasinghe (Capt), Hiran Wickremasekera, Aadil Reyal, Eranda Seneviratne, Yohan Woods, Aravinda Premaratne, Manoj Sarachchandra, Kanishka Ranaraja, Milinda Ranasinghe,Pulasthi de Silva, Supun Ranaraja, Sumudu Liyanage, Tharaka Jayasinghe,Aruna Bandara, Kasun Karunaratne, Delwantha Ekanayake. (MIC – Mr. Palitha Abeyratne. Coach – Champika Siriwardena).
Seven outright wins have come their way with the Jewels in the Crown being the smashing wins over S. Thomas’ and Royal (Something that hasn’t been achieved often!)
Six first innings wins have also been recorded. The only blot on their escutcheon was a loss to the Josephians. First innings losses also ensued to Dharmasoka and, surprisingly to Kingswood.
The team’s success is based on their bench strength. They have around 16 players who can be drafted in at anytime and who will perform with credit.
The batting headed by opener Niroshan Dikwella, who has scored two hundreds, runs very deep indeed. Heshan Wanniarachchi is the other centurion. Mohammed Sajid has probably been affected by the cares of captaincy and has not been seen at his best. Hard hitting Jayasuriya, Atugoda and the in-form Jaleel add muscle to the middle order. Wickrema and Gokula (primarily bowlers) can bat capably. 2009 Big Match centurion Shameera Wijesuriya is also in the runs.
The skipper of last year’s Kandy District under 15 team Rajitha Jayatunga has been a revelation. He has reeled off three fifties in-a-row. Dinuk Wickremanayake, a tidy batsman, could also be in the fray.
Most times, Trinity opens the bowling with a spinner. Leggie Akila Jayawardena who bowled beautifully in the 2009 Big Match is out with a hip injury. But Trinity has spinners aplenty since his return to the team. Jaleel has scythed through oppressing batsmen. Off spinner Suresh Wickrema with 75 wickets looms as a potential threat. Laft armer Aamil Anas has created a very good impression from his first game.
Trinity (From) – Mohamed Sajid (Capt), Kitmal Wimalaweera, Rushan Jaleel, Shameera Wijesuriya, Suresh Wickrema, Niroshan Dikwella, Kavinda Jayasuriya, Keheliya Atugoda, Chintaka Gokula, Gayan Bopitiya, Heshan Wanniarachchi, Aamil Anas, Rajitha Jayatunga, Dinuk Wickremanayake, Janishka Premasinghe (MIC Mr. A. Vishnuwartham, Coach - Sampath Perera).
The Anthonian record by comparison is quite modest. A solitary win over Vidyartha, losses to St. Peter’s and St. Sebastian’s, four first innings wins and five first innings defeats don’t inspire too much confidence. Yet the Antonians cannot be written off. Traditionally Anthonians have the priceless yet indefinable something called fighting spirit. They put up a gritty show last year too.
Skipper Dulash Kumarasinghe, like his counterpart, is now producing useful runs. The king-pin in the line-up is opener Hiran Wickremasekera who has hundreds against Mahinda and Mahanama. He has just completed 1000 runs. He did it last year also. Adil Reyal, their leading all-rounder, could be Trinity’s biggest headache if he overcomes his sometimes fragile temperament. He could really put the Trinity spinners in their place.
Manoj Sarachchandra, a hundred maker, Yohan Woods, Tharaka Jayasinghe, Kanishka Ranaraja and Pulasthi de Silva are the other front-line batsmen. On how they cope with the expected spin friendly track will hinge the result of the game.
Reyal is once again is the key player in the bowling department. His left arm spinners have garnered 67 wickets already. Eranda Seneviratne has bowled his off breaks tidly. Aruna Bandara off spin, Milinda Ranasinghe, left arm and medium pacies Ranaraja, Jayasinghe and Liyanage pose the bowling threat. All told, not quite as potent as the attack of the Trinitians.
Anthonians won last in 1992 under Umesh de Alwis. Trinity’s last win came in 1996 when they made full use of an overly generous declaration by Rienzie Perera.
Summing up, Trinity should win and will make all the running. But the Anthonians can gut it out.