The curtains of the Under-19 inter-schools cricket season came down last week with the final of the limited over tournament between S. Thomas’ and Thurstan played at the De Soysa Stadium, Moratuwa. For Thurstan it was going to be memorable as this is the first time that they had qualified to the tournament. In the [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Thurstan’s day of cricketing glory


The curtains of the Under-19 inter-schools cricket season came down last week with the final of the limited over tournament between S. Thomas’ and Thurstan played at the De Soysa Stadium, Moratuwa.

For Thurstan it was going to be memorable as this is the first time that they had qualified to the tournament. In the past they had faded off before they could advance to the quarter or semi-finals.However to achieve the goal of winning the tournament in the first attempt no doubt was going to be a daunting task as they were confronting the gritty Thomians who had already pocketed the schools T20 title just three days earlier.

The jubilant Thurstan First XI team after their win - Pix by Ranjith Perera Below: Thurstan skipper Kavindu Kulasekara receives the trophy

Nothing is impossible and likewise with the saying that the game of cricket is uncertain till the last ball is bowled especially in the shorter version and the Thurstanites in fulfiling their goal did just that.

The tournament saw 48 schools in the fray which included the first 32 teams from the division one category according to the points table, 12 teams from division two and four teams from the division three categories.

Richmond last year’s champion team along with defending limited over champions St. Peter’s, Trinity and S. Thomas’ were the hot favourites to lift the title but Thurstan the dark horse dashed all the hopes of the aspiring teams.

Special mention should be made about Anuradhapura Central who led the points table in the Division II category as they put in some giant killing performances where they overcame fancied teams in the top division in the likes of Nalanda to qualify to the pre-quarter final.

The 48 teams were divided into 12 groups comprising of four teams in each group and the completion of the pre-quarter finals saw defending champions failing to make it into the quarter-finals.

In the four quarter-finals Thurstan routed traditional rivals Isipathana in a one sided game by a whopping 171 runs, St. Joseph’s overcame St. Sebastian’s by seven wickets, S. Thomas’ defeated Ananda by 17 runs and Richmond got the better of Gurukula MV Kelaniya by three wickets.

The first semi-final between Thurstan and St. Joseph’s turned out to be a keen tussle and fittingly the game ended in a tie with the two teams making the identical score of 218.

But in the replay a few days later Thurstan coasted to an easy 73 runs win to advance to the final and in the second semi-final S. Thomas’ recorded a convincing seven wicket win over Richmond to qualify to the final after a lapse of 12 years.

The final clash between Thurstan and S. Thomas’ saw the Thurstanites set the tone for their victory from the time the first ball of the match was bowled when they sent the Thomians reeling to 14 for 3 with the game just seven overs old.

Even though the Thomian pair of wicketkeeper Sanesh de Mel and Chenutha Wickramasinghe denied further success for their opponents for a considerable period of time but the Thurstan bowlers succeeded in having the Thomian run rate low.

In the 22nd over the Thomians run rate was just under three runs with the score on 66 for 3 before Sanesh was forced to retire due to an injury. It was from here that the Thomians batsmen Chenutha and Thilaksha Sumanasiri went after the bowling.

The pair added a quick fire 111 in only 88 balls before Chenutha mistiming a delivery from left arm spinner Arjuna Gunawardena was clean bowled having made a well compiled 72 off 82 balls with S. Thomas’ on 173 for 4 in 36.4 overs.

Thilaksha too fell victim to Arjuna as he followed two balls later cracking a 52 ball 63 that included five boundaries and three sixes. Thurstan with these two quick wickets came back into the game and again took control.

The Thomians never recovered from the two set backs and the prospect of ending with a challenging score too diminished. Arjuna continued to torment the Thomian batting as he got rid of skipper Madushan Ravichandrakumar and Tharindu Ratnayake the two recognized batsmen left in the Thomian batting list.

From a healthy position of 173 for 3 the Thomians were now struggling on 205 for 8 in the 41st over. They were left with only six overs to negotiate due to the match being curtailed to 47 overs after a late start.

They managed to make only a further 12 runs and also was unable to last the full quota being bowled with four balls left for a score of 217. Arjuna the tormenter ended with impressive figures of 4 for 35 from his ten overs.

Thurstan having cleared the first hurdle of restricting the Thomians to a score of 217 began their run chase in calypso fashion with opening pair of Minhaj Jaleel and Sajith Gunatileke having things their own way.

The pair posted the 50 runs on the board in the tenth over and then added another 27 runs before being separated by spinner Tharindu Ratnayake with Jaleel having made a 30 ball knock of 28.

Sajith joined by Thilan Gunaratne associated in a 43 runs stand before Sajith was forced to retire due to an injury having made 64 in 76 balls inclusive of eight boundaries and a six.

Thimira Jayasinghe and Thilan steadied the innings but the dismissal of the latter saw the Thurstanites at the halfway stage of the innings well set on 138 for 2. Thimira and skipper Kavindu Kulasekera further frustrated the Thomian bowlers as in just under 11 overs the pair added 48 runs before a heavy shower forced the umpires to call of the game.

The Thurstanites during stoppage were well ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis run rate and the match ultimately was decided with the Thurstanites being declared champions with a 50 run win on the D/L method.

The Thurstan champion squad: Kavindu Kulasekera (Capt), Minhaj Jaleel, Thimira Jayasinghe, Charana Nanayakkara, Achintha Kalpana, Senal Wijesinghe, Sajith Gunatilleke, Isuru Fernando, Arjuna Gunawardena, Ayesh Weeraratne, Kasun Abeyratne, Chinthaka Udaya, Arjuna Jayasena, Sahan Dassanayake, Thilan Gunaratne, Saman Hewavitharana (Coach).

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