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Raninda going great guns for Wesley

By Samiddha Kalmith Rathnayake
Raninda Sooriyakumara, a 14-year-old cricketer from Wesley College rewrote his school record books with a blistering innings against Lumbini last Tuesday in an Astra Trophy under 15 tournament match when he blasted 204 not out off just 192 balls. His marathon innings included 23 fours and seven sixes which made the Lumbini bowling attack helpless. It is said to be the first double century in junior cricket by a Wesleyite and also the first score over 200 by a Wesley cricketer after Farveez Maharoof’s 243 against Richmond in 2002.

Having started his cricket at 11 years, Sooriyakumara is a capable all-rounder. With his stroke-making ability he is a dependable right-hand opening batsman for his team and when it comes to bowling his off-spin is an asset to them.
Sooriyakumara had many things to say of that memorable innings. “To be honest I never thought that I could reach a double century. I’m really happy with my performance,” he said.

Commenting on the Lumbini team Sooriyakumara said, “Our opponents had a decent bowling attack and their fielding was superb. That definitely helped them to save at least 30 to 40 runs. They kept their line and length and I had to work hard to get runs. I only had the intention of scoring some fast runs and until I reached the 200 mark I never believed that I could reach it.”

For the current season he has a total of 225 runs and eight wickets in the three matches played so far. “We have to play another three more matches and hopefully we will be able to win this Astra tournament,” he remarked.
Being a keen student at school, Sooriyakumara is one who has struck a right balance between studies and sports. His hopes for the future are simple and realistic. “I like to represent a club like SSC or CCC. But first, I want to focus on my studies. If I get a chance I like to represent the national side,” he said further.

Speaking of those who had helped him in his cricket he spoke of the early basics he learnt from his first coaches at school – Nuwan Fernando and Neil Rajapakse to whom he was grateful. Yet Sooriyakumara made special mention of his present school coach Shafraz Farook who has worked hard with him and the junior teams in the past two years. He was also thankful to his Principal M.A.P. Fernando, master-in–charge of cricket Wasantha Kasthuriarachchi, his parents and team-mates for their help and encouragement.

His happy coach, Shafraz Farook, said that the lad has got a bright future ahead. “This was not a one-off innings. Raninda has scored heavily for the team in the past. He played all the shots in the book and it was an innings that was a delight to watch.”

Wesley has produced some memorable names in cricket in the past like M. Sathasivam, Abu Fuard, L.R. Goonetillake, Russel Hamer, Sritharan Jeganathan and Farveez Maharoof. Currently they have six junior cricketers who play for the district team and two players who represented the under 15 national team which gives them hope of success in the future.

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Get rugby priorities right

By Ravi Nagahawatte
Sri Lanka’s rugby has its ways of going backwards. From lofty heights in the Asian rankings the islanders have seen their status in the sport take a dip. It’s a frustrating time for those who love national rugby. Sri Lanka’s rugby has now become unpredictable like the political scene in the island. Once the fifth best team in Asia, Sri Lanka’s rating sure would have slipped a few places following the thumping defeat against Kazakhstan.
The recent incident where the country’s sevens rugby captain manhandled a referee reveals many things that are interesting. Rugby players in the country are passionately associated with their schools’ rugby teams or the clubs they represent. The player being found guilty by a disciplinary committee, that probed this violent incident, underscores how much the assailant was moved in seeing the present rugby team of his school end up defeated. These types of incidents show how much more these rugby players are devoted to the school that educated them when compared to the relationships they have with the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU).
This writer doesn’t approve Vithanage’s actions as a spectator even if they showed how fiercely loyal he is to his school. What needs to be projected is that the SLRFU has failed to have this kind of bond with players. It is not fair to point the finger at the present committee that runs the affairs of rugby in Sri Lanka. This problem is as old as Sri Lanka rugby itself. The SLRFU must take a cue from this incident. Players tend to go off track when the tasks given to them are far from being challenging. The prime duty of Vithanage is to represent Kandy Sports Club in the domestic tournament. Doing this is easy as having breakfast for Vithanage. The SLRFU must ponder why the player behaved like he had nothing to lose?
The last couple of months have been very relaxing for the national team because there were little or no international matches. Rugby players showed a keen interest for national rugby when George Simpkins held the reigns as coach. It must be mentioned that the present SLRFU chief Nimal Lewke is the one who made players look at international assignments with all seriousness when he was national coach. However, sadly the coaches after Lewke and Simpkin have failed to retain discipline in players.
Instilling discipline in players is a must. Vithanage is too good a player for Sri Lanka to lose. It is up to the SLRFU to guide this player who has gone astray back on the right track.

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Wesley ride on Raninda’s double ton

After two no-decisions Wesley secured their first win in the ongoing Astra trophy under 15 division I schools cricket tournament when they beat Lumbini MV on the first innings at Campbell Park.
The highlight of the match was a magnificent unbeaten double century from Wesley skipper Raninda Sooriyakumara who scored 204 off 192 balls (23 fours, 7 sixes). His innings enabled Wesley to run up an impressive total of 317-3 off 54.2 overs. Before shell-shocked Lumbini could recover from the onslaught they were shot out for 50, the wickets being taken by Daniel Bartholomeusz, Ishanka Fernando, Sooriyakumara and Sadeem Thawfeeq. Forced to follow-on Lumbini put up a much better batting display in their second innings to finish on 119-3.
Wesley 317-3 decl (54.2) (Raninda Sooriyakumara 204 n.o., Mukthi Kankanamthanthri 21, Ashen Fonseka 42, Denuwan Dasanayake 13, Jason Caderamanpulle 32 n.o.)
Lumbini 50 (22.1) (WADG Perera 23, Daniel Bartholomeusz 3/23, Ishanka Fernando 2/12, Sooriyakumara 3/8, Sadeem Thawfeeq 2/2) and 119-3 (27) (WADG Perea 30, DHM Lokuge 57, JRMVS Bandara 30 n.o., Basitha Jayasuriya 2/45).

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