of the Lovers
evenly matched for a draw
Two leading schools from the Southern Province,
Richmond College and Mahinda College will move on to
the 105th edition of their biggest sporting event
scheduled to be held on March 19-20 at the Galle
International Cricket Stadium. The ‘Big Match’
famously known as the ‘Battle of the Lovers’ is the
third oldest schools’ cricket match in the history
of the game in Sri Lanka. The series began way back
in 1905 and Richmond has won 21 of the matches while
Mahinda has won 23. Having broken a 32-year deadlock
of draws, the talented Mahindians, under the
leadership of Rajith Priyan, registered an emphatic
10-wicket win over Richmond in the 2008 encounter.
However the two teams are evenly balanced this time
and a keen tussle can be expected at the Galle
Stadium which is a batting paradise.
Going back to the series, in a record-breaking
match in 1972, the Mahindians piled up the highest
score by a team when they totalled 359 with their
top order batsman PHKH Ranasinghe scoring a dazzling
162. He eventually became the highest individual
scorer of the series. Just before Ranasinghe’s
mammoth innings, Richmond’s stylish batsman Prasad
Kariyawasam made his school’s highest score of 156
not out to set up the series highest score which
unfortunately lasted just for a few hours only.
Mahinda bowler Somasiri Ambawatte captured all
ten Richmond’s wickets in 1953 to claim the bowling
record and in that match he scored a superb century
to record a fine all-round feat. Two records at the
‘Battle of the Lovers’ also went into the Guinness
Book of records. The first was by Mahinda
wicket-keeper HB Bennett in 1953, when he claimed
all ten wickets in the Richmond innings which was
the only occasion in world cricket history that a
wicket-keeper achieved that feat. The second record
has been set by nine brothers of the Amendra family
who all represented Mahinda in this series. In fact
five of them played in one match which is also
The two schools have produced many national
cricket stars in the recent past such as Jayananada
Warnaweera, Athula Samarasekara, Upul Chandana ,
Marvan Atapattu (who later crossed over to Ananda
College Colombo), late Stanley de Silva (better
known as DLS) and pacer Lasith Malinga who all
brought credit to Mahinda. For Richmond, Champaka
Ramanayake, Chamila Gamage and Suranga Lakmal are
the three best products who had the honour to
represent the national side. Ramanayake later did a
superb job as Sri Lanka’s fast bowling coach and is
presently doing the same job for the Bangladesh
The Richmond side is led this time by third-year
coloursman Kusal Probodha, a right-hand stylish
stroke-maker who opens the innings with Irosh
Samarasooriya. Both are centurions in the side.
Probodha scored a superb 178 against Wesley which
was the highest individual score by a Richmond
player in their series against Mahinda.
Samarasooriya also batted with confidence stroking
an unbeaten 201 against Revatha MV Balapitiya which
is the first double century for Richmond. Last-year
skipper Yasodha Lanka is an experienced player in
the side and this will be his fourth big match. In
fact Yasodha is Richmond’s best stroke player having
made four centuries - 115 against Revatha MV, 178
against Dharmapala Pannipitiya, 184 against Maris
Stella Negombo and 139 against St. Anne’s
Kurunegala. Yasodha Lanka a right-hand batsman
scored over seven hundred runs in nine matches. He
was a member of the national under 19 team for the
South Africa tour but unfortunately missed the
under-19 World Cup tournament due to injury.
Dananajaya de Silva is the other reliable batsman
having scored over 700 runs with three centuries -
128 against Dharmasoka Ambalangoda, 106 against Holy
Cross Kalutara and 155 against St. Aloysius Galle.
Irosh Samarasooriya the right-arm medium-pacer opens
the attack with Yasodha Lanka. Off-spinner
Dhananjaya de Silva is the most successful bowler
having taken 44 wickets with best figures of 4 for 6
against Holy Cross. Dileepa Priyadharshana is also a
useful off-spinner while Charith Priyadharshana is
the orthodox leg-spinner of the side. Suraj
Palliyaguru keeps wickets for Richmond.
Mahinda is captained by sixth-year coloursman,
Denuwan Rajakaruna, a talented wicket- keeper
batsman who represented the national under-19 side.
He scored 96 against West Indies at the World Cup in
New Zealand. He played only five inter-school
matches, due to national duty and scored 97 against
St Joseph’s. Apart from Rajakaruna, last year’s
skipper Romesh Buddika is the other junior national
player from Mahinda with experience. Buddhika a
sixth year coloursman played only two matches due to
national duty and scored 100 against Nalanda.
Buddhika is one of the best batsmen in the Sri
Lankan under-19 side and scored 140 against South
Africa and 52 against India. He also became the man
of the series in the Australian cricket tour. The
in-form batsman played for the Sri Lanka Combined XI
in the inter-provincial tournament and scored 97
against Colombo South.
Kaushalya Gajasinghe a fifth-year player and vice
captain is a successful left-hand middle-order
batsman and right-arm off-spin bowler. He has scored
over 750 runs with a century against Royal College.
He is easily the best bowler of the side taking over
75 wickets. He had a match bag of 11 wickets which
helped them defeat St. Thomas’ Matara this season.
Sohan Kariyawasam and Nisala Tharaka are the opening
bowlers of the side. Tharaka has taken over 50
wickets, with best bowling figures 8 for 36 against
Mahinda coach Harsha Munasinghe in his fifth year
with the team is confident his well balanced side
with two experienced players Buddhika and skipper
Rajakaruna could turn tables on Richmond. His
Richmond counterpart Tharanga Indika, who took
charge this year, feels his side is talented enough
with four centurions to put up a strong challenge.
Both coaches were of the view that it is going to be
a high scoring game and a strong test for the
bowlers of both sides.