Close contest expected in Trinity-Antonian

By S. M. Jiffrey Abdeen, Kandy south group correspondent

12 March 1997

A close contest is expected when the unbeaten St. Anthony's College take on Trinity College in the 81st hill capital's 'Battle of the Blues' which will be played at the Asgiriya Stadium this Friday and Saturday with play commencing at 9.45 a.m. on both days.

This big match is one of the most-looked-forward to events in the hill capital with the series starting in 1895. This match has had a few brief stoppages and the last time this match was not played was in 1956 and 1957 and thereafter it had been played every year.

The last time the Antonians won was in 1990 under Umesh de Alwis and again in 1992 under Nuwan Kalpage when the present test off spinner Mutthiah Muralitharan spun them to victory on both occasions. Trinity's last win came in 1986 under Thushara Weerasuriya after the Antonians under estimated the Lions and declared and this brought Trinity's first victory in 35 years.

Leading the Antonians this year is fourth year coloursman Tharaka Gunaratne who is one of the best all-rounders in schools and has been the mainstay of their batting and he was unlucky not to have won junior national honours this year. They have played 15 matches, winning 1 which broke a five year barren record when they beat Vidyaratha and the rest of the matches have been left drawn. Fourth year coloursman Dilshan Witharane who played for the Sri Lanka Under 19 against the visiting Indian cricketers is the vice captain of the side. Witharene who had to pull out of the unofficial Test series as he was suffering from chicken pox has recovered sufficiently and should be fit for the big match.

There is plenty of depth in their batting with skipper Tharaka Gunaratne, Dilshan Vitharne, Amila Kulatunga, Mahes Pallihakkara, Amila Pinnaduwa, R. Sivakumar, Nafees Nizam, Ravindra Wickremapala, Chryshantha Weerakoddy, Manjula Chithrasena are all capable batsmen. But the player to watch will be hard hitting bat Mahes Pallihakkara who has of late turned his off spinners prodigiously to reap a good harvest of wickets.

The Antonians' pace attack will comprise skipper Tharaka Gunaratne, Niroshan Fernando, Amila Kulatunga, Amila Pinnaduwa, Samindra Dematagolla, Romesh Deen and Hasitha Kaushalyana. Their spin attack will be made up of key spinner Amila Pallihakkara (off spin), Chryshantah Weerakkody (off spin), Manjula Chithrasena (off spin), and Prasanna Kurukulasuriya (off spin). Dilshan Witharne will keep wickets.

Trinity will be led by that brilliant batsman Kumar Sangakkara who won a Cricket Lion in 1996 and also passed the 1000 run mark last year. By virtue of his excellent performance this season he was an automatic choice for the Sri Lanka Under-19 team this year against the Indian cricketers. He came up with some good performances for the junior national team. Apart from his batting he is also a good medium pacer having opened the side's attack and could also keep wickets if the necessity arises, Indika Gunawardena - a good all-rounder with a string of good scores to his credit is the vice captain of the side. He also bowls off cutters with success.

Trinity have played 14 matches, winning one against Kingswood but suffered a set back in their last outing against St. Joseph's College. But they have been without Kumar Sangakkara for the last few matches and this left a big gap in the side. Rodney Raf- fayal in his first year has shown a lot of promise, coming up with some good knocks at a time runs were needed.

For runs, the Lions could look to skipper Kumar Sangakkara, Indika Gunawardena, Rodney Raffayal, Narendra Ekanayake, Vinjaya Jayasinghe, Sudhanga Fernando, Suranga Gamage, Suranga Moratota, Dasun Weeraratne, Kaushalya Weeraratne and Angus Jayasena.

Suranga Moratota will spearhead the Lions attack with Vinjaya Jayasinghe with Kumar Sangakkara, Suranga Gamage, Sanjeewa Damunupola, Kaushalaya Weeraratne and Angus Jayasena completing their speed attack. Left arm spinner Narendra Ekanayake is their main spinner and he will be supported by Indika Gunawardena (off cutters), Sudhanga Fernando (off spin), Rodney Raffayal (off spin), and Dasun Weeraratne (off spin). Rumesh Karunakaran is expected to keep wickets in case Sangakkara opts to bowl.

With the weather in the hill capital keeping fine, two days of entertaining cricket is in store for the cricket fans.

H. M. Muthalib who has taken over the coaching of the Antonians said that his team will go all out to snatch victory by playing positive cricket and if the occasion demands they may even declare early to bring about a decision. The cricket coach of Trinity, Bernard Perera also an Antonian, said that they have always played enterprising cricket this season even when the chips were down and they will continue to play the same way with a decision in their minds.

TRINITY COLLEGE (from) Kumar Sangakkara (Captain), Indika Gunawardena, (Vice Captain), Narendra Ekanayake, Vinjaya Jayasinghe, Rodney Raffayal, Sudhanga Fernando, Suranga Gamage, Suranga Moratota, A. Samarakoon, Dasun Weeraratne, Kaushalya Weeraratne, Rumesh Karunakaran, Angus Jayasena, Sanjeewa Damunupola, Merza Jumar, Ishan Gamanpila (POG S. Ariasingham, MIC D. B. Gunaratne, Coach: Bernard Perera).

ST. ANTHONY'S COLLEGE (from) Tharaka Gunaratne (Captain), Dilshan Witharane (Vice Captain), Amila Kulathunga, Suranga Pinnaduwa, Mahes Pallihakkara, Manjula Chithrasena, Krishantha Weerakkody, Smindra Dematagolla, Nafeez Nizam, Hasitha Kaushalyana, Niroshan Fernando, Prasanna Jayalath, Ravindra Wickremapala, Prasantha Kurukulasuriya, Sanajayasiri Nandasinghe, Mohammed Pawas, Rosmesh Deen, R. Sivakumar (Coach H. M. Muthalib) MIC: M. Udugama, POG N. Willemuna.

Source: The Daily News

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 15:29