Country’s longest-running big match and the world’s second oldest inter-school cricket encounter, turned into a rather swift affair, dominated by wet weather, wet outfield and bad light, which all together spent more time in the field than the players, forcing a dead, dull, draw in the 142nd Battle of the Blues, concluded yesterday at the [...]


A battle ruined by rain

142nd Battle of the Blues

It was a tame draw, but a game Royal dominated and failed to complete with a win

Country’s longest-running big match and the world’s second oldest inter-school cricket encounter, turned into a rather swift affair, dominated by wet weather, wet outfield and bad light, which all together spent more time in the field than the players, forcing a dead, dull, draw in the 142nd Battle of the Blues, concluded yesterday at the SSC grounds in Colombo.

The Thomians batting for the second time within the same day, had their opener Romesh Mendis, in a spot of bother, batting on a pair. His fears and the bother returned to him haunting, in the form of a bowled.

Despite defending using the toe-end of the bat, the ball still went bouncing and disturbed the stumps, even before the batsman could block. Though their captain Shalin de Mel, was helped by his team-mates to walk off with a wound at the time of declaration, the southpaw still came out to bat at his usual spot.

Their scoring rate, in comparison to their first essay, appeared fast, inclusive of the only six of the entire match coming off the blade of De Mel. Nevertheless, prior to this, he was given life off Sadisha Rajapaksa, when the latter dropped of what appeared to be a catchable caught-and-bowled.

Shalin de Mel and Ahan Wickramasinghe, captains of S. Thomas’ and Royal, holding the prestigious Rt. Hon. D.S. Senanayake Memorial Challenge Shield at the conclusion of the 142nd Battle of the Blues which ended in a draw Also in the picture (from left) are Roshan Adams (Co-Chairman, Royal College), Rev. Marc Billimoria (Warden, S. Thomas’ College), Harsha Samaranayake (Senior General Manager – Brand and Media, Group Marketing, Dialog Axiata PLC), M.S.V. Gunathilaka (Principal, Royal College) and Prasanna Fernando (Co-Chairman, S. Thomas’ College)

When bad light suspended play and sealed the encounter, S. Thomas’ was one down for 32, with a lead of nine runs.

Royalists, starting their innings, unlike their counterparts, showed no hurry in their scoring and consequently runs began to flow freely. This was partly due to Gunaratam Caniston, sharing the new ball with Sri Lanka Under-19 cap Yasiru Rodrigo, leaking runs.

As an early introduction, spin was brought into play with Anuk Palihawadena’s first spell not off to a good start.

Exactly when the opening pair were beginning to wipe out half of their deficit in the first hour mark, spinner Palihawadena’s near-smart work of run out in his end, gave a scare to Isiwara Dissanayake, only for it to be a narrow escape.

However, Nathan Caldera, struck in the first over of his debut big match, separating the stand before they could notch up a 50. Sineth Jayawardena swung his bat at full blast, and the force was such, the ball rocketed to the first slip, then completed it on second attempt, prompting Caldera’s ecstatic celebrations.

That only brought in the six-foot-tall Royal captain and former
Sri Lanka Under-19 player – Ahan Wickramasinghe to the crease. He, living to his reputation of an aggressive batter, lived dangerously giving an iota of chances.

But that never stopped him from taking on the bowlers and accelerating the innings. However, that was cut to a short life, when the lanky left-armer Rodrigo, got his first as Wickramasinghe, attempting to whack it over the on-side found, the stumps chopped on.

Sign boards were placed around SSC explaining the match was barred for spectators - Pic by Akila Jayawardene

Wickramasinghe’s wicket triggered a mini-collapse, as Isiwara Dissanayake, having his half-century in sight, was dismissed off another debutant Rajindu Thilakarathna, second of the seven fresher’s in the team, getting his first wicket at the series.

In the immediate next over, Rodrigo returned to collect his second scalp removing Sadisha Rajapakse trapped leg-before-wicket.

Disturbance also occurred for the blue-black-and-black team’s skipper, as he was seen down with an injury and had to be helped off by two of his team-mates. The Reid Avenue boys, after losing these three quick wickets, declared on the stroke of tea, posting 112 for the loss of four, and that gave them a slight lead of 23.

For the third straight and the final day too, a wet outfield delayed the resumption, washing out the entire morning session.

Thomians, defying expectations to declare, went onto bat, but the last pair failed to last even for a short passage of play. They were eventually bowled for 89, one of the lowest totals by a team in the annual feature, with Rajindu Thilakarathna caught at short mid-on for zero.

For the title holders of the D.S. Senanayake Memorial Challenge Shield — S. Thomas’ who retained it until the next edition, it was Rodrigo, their top scorer of 30, who hitting two boundaries of their team’s aggregate of four boundaries. He finished the match with 30 runs and two wickets.

The first day’s play was completely washed out and the toss was made at 12.30pm on the second day, which restricted play for only 48.5 overs. Final day’s play began at 12.00 noon after overnight rain delayed the start, restricting play for only 34.5 overs through the entire day.

The Royal team wore black arm bands in respect of Zulki Hamid, a former Royal skipper and an active member of the Joint Match Organising Committee, who passed away during August this year due to COVID-19.

S. Thomas’ 1st innings
(87/9 o’night)Anuk Palihawadena lbw b Poddawela …….. 7Romesh Mendis lbw b Amarasekara ……….. 0

Shalin de Mel lbw b Amarasekara …………… 1

Ryan Fernando c Rajapakse b Amarasekara ….. 0

Shenesh Hettiarachchi lbw b Pathirathna … 1

Gunaratnam Caniston c Wickramasinghe b Balasooriya 12

Nathan Caldera c Pathirathna b Balasooriya …. 9

Thenuka Liyanage

c Jayawardena b Balasooriya…………………….. 0

Yasiru Rodrigo not out ………………….. 30

Mahith Perera b Balasooriya ……………… 22

Rajindo Thilakarathna c Manchanayake b Pathirathna    0

(48.5: Defends, but ball pops out and easily taken by Manchanayake at short mid-on)

Extras: (b4, nb1, wd 2) ……………………….. 7

Total (all out; 48.5 overs) …………………….. 89

Fall of wickets: 1-4 (1.4, Mendis), 2-6 (3.4, de Mel), 3-8 (5.1, Fernando), 4-9 (6.1, Hettiarachchi), 5-21 (11.4, Palihawadena), 6-31 (16.4, Caniston), 7-32 (18.1, Caldera), 8-35 (18.6, Liyanage), 9-73 (40.2, Perera), 10-89 (48.5, Thilakarathna)

Bowling: Kavindu Pathirathna 9.5-1-17-2, Sonal Amarasekara 10-6-8-3, Dan Podiwela 5-1-12-1, Gishan Balasooriya 16-4-39-4, Prashan Silva 7-2-9-0, Dasis Manchanayake 1-1-0-0.

Royal 1st innings

Sineth Jayawardena c Liyanage b Caldera .. 19

(10.3; pitched full, goes for a full-swing aiming the covers, a thick edge and the ball whistles away to Liyanage, at the first slip, fumbles but completes it in the second take)

Isiwara Dissanayaka b Thilakarathna…… 47

(20.2; pitched outside off, deceived by the line looking to work it out to off-side, ball takes a sharp turn and clips off the leg-stump bails)

Ahan Wickramasinghe b Rodrigo……… 26

(19.5; ball is well-pitched for the batsman, tries to go big over mid-wicket, misfortune as he is played on)

Sadisha Rajapakse lbw Rodrigo …………. 7

(21.4; ball lands in the middle, straight as an arrow, impact in line, trapped plumbed)

Kavindu Pathirathna not out …………….. 3

Sonal Amarasekera not out …………….. 1

Extras (nb6, lb2, wd 2) ………………………. 10

Total (4 wickets; 21.5-overs) …………….. 112 decl

Fall of wickets: 1-40 (10.3, Jayawardena), 2-97 (19.5, Wickramasinghe), 3-105 (20.2, Dissanayaka), 4-111 (21.4, Rajapakse)

Did not bat: Gishan Balasooriya, Sehan Herath, Prashan Silva, Dan Poddiwela, Dasis Manchanayake

Bowling: Yasiru Rodrigo 7.5-0-32-2, G. Caniston 4-0-26-0, Anuk Palihawadena 4-0-8-0, Nathan Caldera 3-0-21-1, Shalin de Mel 1-0-9-0, Ryan Thilakarathna 2-0-14-1

S. Thomas’ 2nd innings

Anuk Palihawadena not out ……………. 12

Romesh Mendis b Amarasekara ……………. 0

(Blocks the ball but still sneaks between the bat and pitch, bounces towards the stumps and does the damage)

Shalin de Mel not out …………………….. 20

Extras ……………………………………… 0

Total (1 wicket; 13 overs) …………………….. 32

Fall of wickets: 1-0 (1.6, Mendis)

Did not bat: Yasiru Rodrigo, Shenesh Hettiarachchi, Ryan Fernando, Thenuka Liyanage, Mahith Perera, Gunaratnam Caniston, Nathan Caldera, Rajindu Thilakarathna

Bowling: Kavindu Pathirathna 3-2-3-0, Sonal Amarasekara 5-1-15-1, Gishan Balasooriya 4-2-11-0, Dan Poddiwela 1-0-3-0


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