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83rd Battle of the Saints – This can be a nailbiter – no quarter given or asked

Posted on 25 February 2017 by TSL

 

By M. Shamil Amit – Courtesy: Sunday Times.

As it happens every year during the month of March the saints are ready to march on the cricket field for their annual “Battle of the Saints”.  This is the 83rd in the series to be played on March 3 and 4 at the P. Sara Stadium and no doubt with both the teams fielding talented players there is bound to be a close tussle.

The Josephians lead the series with 12 wins with their last win being in 2008 under the leadership of Ruwantha Fernandopulle while the Peterites have ten wins having won the encounter last year under Vinu Mohotti.

In fact it was the sportsmanship of St Joseph’s rector Rev. Fr. Travis Gabriel who awarded the win to St Peter’s due to the crowd invasion when the Peterites was on the verge of winning the game.

 

But the organisers this time out, the joint committee of the two schools are not going to leave any stone unturned and trouble makers beware as no room will be left and stern action will be taken as the relevant officials have been advised to take necessary action.

Both teams this year are unbeaten.  Peterites led by Lakshina Rodrigo have a better record.  After 18 games they have registered five outright wins. They are against St Anthony’s Wattala, Maris Stella, St Mary’s Kegalle, St Sebastian’s Moratuwa and St Benedict’s.

Seated from Left: Asiri Perera (Fitness Trainer), Asiri Caldera (2nd XI MIC), Prasantha Ranaweera (1st XI MIC), Rev.Fr. Milan Bernard (POG), Harin Cooray (Capt), Rev. Fr. Travis Gabriel (Rector), Shevon Fonseka (V. Capt), Roger Wijesuriya (Head Coach), Michael Adams (2nd XI Coach,), Dharantha Menerigama (Fielding Coach). 1st Row from left: Shevaan Rasool, Cameron Duruge, Dineth Jayakody, Nipun Sumanasinghe, Jehan Daniel, Revan Kelly, Thashan Perera, Avishka Fernando, Sachintha Mahindasinghe, 2nd Row from left: Kavindu Jayathissa, Pahan Perera, Darlo Dasanayake,, Ruchira Ekanayake, Dineth Madurawala, Jehan Fernandopulle, Lakshan Gamage, Havin Perera.

St. Peter's College XI – Seated from left: Manuker Gunaratne (Trainer), Sampath Dharmasiri [Fielding Coach], Crishantha Peiris [Bowling Coach], Shanaka Fernando [Asst Coach], Sanath Chinthaka [ Secretary/Senior M. I. C.], Lakshina Rodrigo [Capt), Rev. Fr. Trevor Martin [Rector), Rev. Fr. Thilina Pathum {Sport Co-ordinator), Manelker De Silva [Vice Capt], Malinda Warnapura [Head Coach], Wasanatha Haputhanthri [Junior M. I. C.], Kitto Fernandopulle [Asst Coach], Mahesh De Silva [Manager). First row from left: Banuka de Silva, Shivan Perera, Chathura Obeysekera, Shalith Fernando, Sulakshana Fernando, Anishka Perera, Ravindu Silva, Dinith Anjula, Sachin Silva, Vinul Gunawardane. Top row from left: Nipunaka Fonseka, Ameen Miflal, Ramnith Jayasena, Santhush Gunathilaka, Lashen Rodrigo, Prabasara Herath.

 

Josephians led by Harin Cooray have played 18 matches has been able to win three of them against St Patrick’s Jaffna, Maris Stella and Bandaranayake MV Gampaha.

Nevertheless for any school their traditional encounter is something special and the “Battle of the Saints” is going to be a tussle for supremacy between the two schools.

Let’s also not forget that in most of the matches played in the series have been dominated by the underdogs. This year with both the teams well balanced it will be hard to predict an outcome as the two teams’ posses and are oozing with talented players.

The Josephian batting will revolve around their leading run getter Nipun Sumanasinghe who had the honour of being the first player this season to reach the 1000 runs mark and has made three tons and five half tons.

To support him there is Dineth Madurawala who has made over 800 runs which includes four tons and two half tons and Shevon Fonseka the other player to crack a ton and has scored over 650 runs.

Pahan Perera, Jehan Fernandopulle and Jehan Daniels are the three batsmen that the Petes will have to keep an eye. Pahan though making over 550 runs is a player with better potential but has not lived up to expectations and he is capable of doing the needful in this game while much will be expected from the Jehan double.

Skipper Harin who ended as the top bowler of the side with 77 scalps to his credit will spearhead the bowling attack and the responsibility is no doubt going to be a burden to him.

The skipper will look for support from Ruchira Ekanayake, Nipun Sumanasinghe, Havin Perera and Dineth Jayakody to curtail the strong Peterite batting line up.

The Peterites on the other hand will bank their batting on two players Santhush Gunatilleke and skipper Lakshina who both have been in the runs right through out the season.

Santhush in fact was unfortunate to miss out in achieving 1000 runs for the season when he was dismissed for 85 needing 128 runs and fell short by 43 runs.

Santhush ended with 957 runs and has two tons and seven half tons, so he will no doubt be looking forward to make a memorable big match and will be the one for the Josephians to watch.

Skipper Lakshina along with two others Manelker de Silva and Anishka Perera are the other centurions of the side. Apart from the ton Lakshina has made eight half tons while Manelker who has scored over 575 runs and Anishka 500, has three half tons each

Then there is Shalith Fernando who has scored over 700 runs inclusive of seven half tons along with the above players along with Ranmith Jayasena and Vinul Gunawardena are going to be a thorn in the flesh for the Josephian bowlers

Left arm spinner Mohamed Ameen is their trump card in the bowling department and the youngster has been in the wickets on regular basis and ended up by achieving the magical 100 wickets in a season, the only player to do it so far and he could be the match winner along with Santhush and skipper Lakshina.

The support of Chathura Obeysekera who has taken over 70 wickets and make shift bowlers Santhush Gunatilleke, Sachin Silva and Manelker de Silva would be looked forward to curtail the Josephian batting.

Looking back at the cricketers who donned the Sri Lanka jersey from the two institutions, the Josephians produced Angelo Mathews, Chaminda Vaas, Thisara Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne, Ashley de Silva and Michael Vandort to name a few and the Peterites produced Roy Dias, Rumesh Ratnayake, Russel Arnold, Vinothan John, Amal Silva, Kaushal Lokuarachchi, Malinda Warnapura and Angelo Perera.

The chief guest at the 83rd “Battle of the Saints” will be Kitto Fernandopulle who led the Peterites in the year 1979.

The two day encounter will be followed by the 43rd limited over encounter which is played for the Fr. Peter A. Pillai trophy which is scheduled to be played on March 25 at SSC ground which is returning back to venue after 1994.

In this segment too the Josephians are leading with 21 wins to the 19 by the Peterites with two matches being washed out.

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