Courageous Royal face Thomian juggernaut | Sri Lanka News

It’s celebration time again for the young and old boys of the two top cricket playing schools Royal College and S. Thomas’ College as they converge when their young cricketers battle it out in the 144th Battle of the Blues big match for the D. S. Senanayake Memorial Trophy over the next three days, beginning tomorrow, at the SSC ground.

It will also be the first time in three years that spectators will be allowed back into the grounds to watch this encounter, deemed to be the second oldest inter-schools match in the world after St Peter’s College and Prince Alfred College Adelaide Australia which began in 1878.

The Royal-Thomian has also staved off two World Wars, with the recent Covid-19 pandemic also proving to not be a hurdle for the encounter to continue, even if it is behind closed doors.

This time the scales are in favour of the sea side school boys who have remained unbeaten this season, while Reid Avenue team have been unable to make much of an impression, suffering back to back defeats to Trinity this season.

The Thomians led by Romesh Mendis who has been in top form throughout the season and will come into the game with their heads high having recorded four outright wins from the 15 matches played.

Royal are led by Dasis Manchanayake, who has been their mainstay in the batting department, have chalked up three outright wins from 14 matches played.

The Thomians have a strong batting line comprising of three centurions in skipper Mendis, who is their top scorer with over 750 runs and five half tons, Mahith Perera, scoring 550 runs this season, and Nathan Caldera with 350 runs to his name.

They will bank on Thisen Eheliyagoda, Dineth Gunawardena, Senesh Hettiarachchi and Senadhi Bulankulame to bolster their scoreboard.

The bowling will be spearheaded by four bowlers who have taken over 50 wickets — Nathan Caldera, the top wicket-taker, Charuka Peiris, Abeeth Paranavidana and Akash Fernando, with support expected from Dineth Gunawardena and Kavindu Dias to curtail the opponents batting.

Royal skipper Manchanayake will be the batsman that the Thomians will have to worry the most about, one of three centurions in the side who has had the honour of passing the 1000 runs milestone (1059) inclusive of two tons and seven half tons.

Rehan Peiris is the other centurion of the side, having scored over 600 runs while Sri Lanka youth player Sineth Jayawardena, though unable to represent his school in most of the matches due to his involvement with the national U19 team, is the other centurion.

He has been given permission to play in the big match and is scheduled to leave the island on March 19 for the Under 19 Tri-Nation to be held in UAE.

Others whom Royal will be pinning their hopes on are Uvindu Weerasekera, who has scored over 550 runs, Sanvindu Senarathaarchchi and Ramiru Peiris.

Spinners Nethwin Dharmaratne and Ramiru Perera who both share 60 wickets between them will lead the bowling attack for Royal with support expected from skipper Manchanayake and Ranuka Mallawaarachchi to curtail the Thomian batting.

There are some records yet to be surpassed, with the series top individual knock of 197 by Royal’s Sumithra Warnakulasuriya in 1980, still unbroken.

Duleep Mendis holds the Thomian record of 184 made in 1972.

The partnership of 284 runs for the third wicket between Anushka Polonowita and Yasas Dharmaratne achieved in 1986 stands as the best for any wicket in the series.

Royal holds the record of the highest score in the series which is 432 for 9 achieved in 2006 that eclipsed the previous best of 388 for 9 held by the Thomians.

The two sides share 35 wins each with the Thomians being the last to win in the year 2019 and Royal recorded their last win in 2016. 


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