A resolute Royal College team, battered in the first session on day one, rebounded strongly to record a commanding 180-run win over S. Thomas’ College in their 144th Battle of the Blues encounter which ended just after tea at the SSC grounds yesterday.
When Royal skipper Dasis Manchanayake held on to a brilliant catch diving to his left off Sineth Jayawardena at mid-off to remove tail-ender Abeeth Paranavidana, celebration erupted with Royal supporters flocking to the ground and carrying Manchanayake and Ramiru Perera on their shoulders.
The win enabled Royal to regain the D.S. Senanayake Memorial Shield for the first time since their stunning four-wicket win under the captaincy of Geeshath Panditharatne in 2016. Seven years later, Manchanayake took the rare honour of leading his side to victory while also breaking a few records.
After being reduced to 63 for 4 before lunch on day one, Royalists rescued themselves to a position of complete control thanks to two batting masterclasses by Manchanayake (137) and Ramiru Perera (128).
The pair shared a record fifth-wicket stand of 229 to steer them to a formidable 326 for 8 declared. Along the way, both reached centuries, a feat that will be celebrated by the Royal camp for years to come. Concentration, composure, and aggression were the hallmark of this partnership between Manchanayake and Perera who took the Thomians bowlers apart in both innings. This impressive partnership set the tone for their outstanding victory well complimented by the bowling unit and the fielders.
Careless batting and excellent bowling by Royal combined to cause a Thomian collapse in both innings, even though they appeared to be the better side on paper ahead of the 144th battle. The Thomians came in as the favourite, having remained unbeaten through the season but what was on display was a complete contrast. They crumbled under pressure, resulting in a forgettable defeat.
The total of 153 in the first innings was followed by 161 in the second innings, explaining the Thomians’ struggle with the bat as the Royal seam and spin attack struck at regular intervals to compliment the batting brilliance of skipper and Perera.
Despite having a 173 run first innings lead, Royal, without enforcing the follow-on, added 168 for the loss of 4 wickets in quick succession to leave a target of 342 to win. Once again, it was the Manchanayake-Perera combination that propelled the innings with quick runs.
The skipper who was rightly adjudged the Man-of-the-Match made 57 that came off 49 balls and Perera who was adjudged Best Batsman, remained unbeaten on 46 off 34 deliveries when the Royal skipper decided to declare their second innings at the overnight score of 168 for 4.
However, the Thomians made a mess of their second innings just as they did of their first innings. From the start, the batting was a little airy-fairy. They lost wickets through faulty shot making. In no time, they found that they had lost six wickets for 83 runs by lunch.
When Royal began the second session of the day, they would have been hoping to be home before tea but Thomian grit prevailed briefly during the post-lunch session as they fought desperately to save the game.
Matters got worse and the damage was too deep-seated. There was no way back even though Senesh Hettiarachchi and Charuka Peiris batted with admirable sense and composure. They consumed balls, delaying the evitable Royal victory. It was a telling indictment on some of the other Thomian batters who came and went.
For the winners, three bowlers – Sineth Jayawardena, Nethwin Dharmaratne and Ramiru Perera – all took two wickets each. Manchanayake, too, chipped in with one wicket, rounding up an all-round winning performance.
For the Thomians Akash Fernando stood out with the ball, picking four each in either inning and walked away with the Best Bowler award.
Manchanayake became the first Royal captain to score a century and a half-century in the same match and the sixth skipper from the Reid Avenue School to score a century after a lapse of 27 years. He joins the fleet of Royal skippers– F.C. de Saram (1931/140), S.G. Salgadu (1942/112), M. Wille (1957/121), C.J. Fernando (1971/160) and Anushka Polonowita (1996/165)–with his electric knock of 137, which came off 150 deliveries and included 17 boundaries. Manchanayake went beyond his five predecessors by scoring a blistering 57 off 49 deliveries with six fours on Friday, enabling his team to place a challenging target of 342 runs to the Thomians.
The southpaw deservingly won the Player-of-the-Match award. And his fame is not limited to Royal’s famous and well-crafted win yesterday. He also has to his name a match-saving knock of 53 not out as a freshman in the 141st Battle of the Blues encounter.
As a 15-year-old, the diminutive left-hander endured a baptism of fire to hit a memorable half-century to join the list of Royal freshers who have achieved this feat in their debut at the big match. He aptly justified his father’s commitment– retired prematurely from his profession to support his son’s cricketing dreams–and made both his parents and the entire Royal fraternity proud with the rare achievement.
|Royal College 326 for 8 (74) decl (Dasis Manchanayake 137, Ramiru Perera 128, Ovina Abanpola 30, Akash Fernando 4/55, Kavindu Dias 3/58, Nathan Caldera 1/64) and 168 for 4 (26) (Dasis Manchanayake 57, Ramiru Perera 46n.o., Uvindu Weerasekera 28, Akash Fernando 4/35) |
S. Thomas’ College 153 all out (55) (Senadhi Bulankulama 40, Mahith Perera 30, Ranuka Malaviarachchi 2/35, Bulan Weerathunga 3/26, Sandesh Ramanayake 2/36, Sineth Jayawardena 2/9, Ramiru Perera 1/30)
S. Thomas’ College 2nd innings
Thishen Ehaliyagoda lbw b Malaviarachchi 0
(Trapped leg before)
Dineth Goonewardena c Uvindu b Ramanayake 15
(Short-pitched delivery; goes for a pull and caught stunningly with one-hand at square leg)
Romesh Mendis lbw b Weerathunga 12
(Looks to defend, trapped plumbed)
Senadhi Bulankulama c Abanpona b Dharmarathna 12
(Full toss delivery, lofts and caught wide off of mid-on)
Nathan Caldera b Dharmaratne 18
(Looks to sweep it towards on-side, ball goes through the legs, hits the stump)
Mahith Perera lbw b Manchanayake 7
(Looks to defend but hits on the pad, an easy call for leg before)
Senesh Hettiarachchi not out 46
Charuka Peiris b Perera 22
(Comes down on the knees to tap it around, misjudged, ball turns and hits the stumps)
Akash Fernando b Perera 0
(Drives, only to be caught sharply at silly point)
Kavindu Dias lbw b Jayawardena 14
(Front foot defense, misses the bat and hits the pad instead)
Abheetha Paranavidana c Manchanayake b Jayawardena 0
(Goes for the pull shot, taken by captain Manchanayake at short midwicket)
Extras (nb2, lb5, b8) 15
Total (All out; 58.5) 161
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Ehaliyagoda), 18-2 (Mendis), 43-3 (Goonewardena), 63-4 (Bulankulama), 74-5 (Mahith), 76-6 (Caldera), 142-7 (Peiris), 142-8 (Fernando), 157-9 (Kavindu), 161-10 (Abheeth)
Bowling: Ranuka Malaviarachchi 10-2-33-1, Bulan Weerathunga 9-4-18-1, Sandesh Ramanayake 7-1-22-1, Sineth Jayawardena 9.5-3-14-2, Dasis Manchanayake 4-0-9-1, Nethwin Dharmaratne 10-2-27-2, Ramiru Perera 9-2-25-2