84th annual Battle of the Maroons
Nalanda College’s middle-order batsman Pramud Hettiwatta smashed an unbeaten 102 off 87 balls (12 fours) to help his team reach the highest total in their big match history (298-5decl) at the SSC ground in Maitland Place yesterday. Hettiwatta along with Avishka de Silva who also remained not out on 77 put on an unbeaten partnership of 166 runs when captain Lahiru Jayakody decided to declare their innings in the 82nd over of the day.
Ananda’s captain Thushara Samarakoon having won the toss decided to bowl first on a very sunny morning and the left-arm quickie justified his captain’s decision when he dismissed the Nalanda opener, Malinga Silva in the third over of the day. However, utilizing the dry pitch condition Woshitha Silva and Malinga Amarasinghe added 52 runs for the second wicket before a stunning diving catch at mid-wicket by the captain Samarakoon off the bowling of off-spinner, Sammu Ashan sent Woshitha Silva on his way for 37 runs. Sammu who was in the middle of a fine spell of good old fashioned off-spin bowling was too good for Nalanda captain Lahiru Jayakody (1) who was caught at forward short leg by Thaveen Dananjaya for one run. The match was well balanced at 93-3 at lunch.
Sammu’s third scalp just five balls after the lunch interval gave Anandians a slight edge with Lahiru Wijeratne being dismissed for 10.
Malinga Amarasinghe (60) who played the anchor role of the innings was brilliantly caught at long-on by Kushil Perera off the bowling of left-arm spinner, Isuru Gunasekara when he tried a slog sweep which ended up in a leading edge. However, Avishka de Silva and Pramud Hettiwatta made it Nalanda’s day as the two batsmen entertained a fairly big crowd at the ground. In bringing up his century Hettiwatta blasted one over mid-off which saw the Nalanda supporters sprinting to the middle of the ground to congratulate their hero.
Anandians were 14 for no loss at stumps when the umpires were forced to call off the play with fans making a mockery of the big match. They continuously disturbed the play; at times they ran onto ground to congratulate players, at some other times they just ran into middle with stupid acts making life extremely difficult for the prefects and officials who frankly had no control over the situation.
Fans have this selfish habit of enjoying themselves when 22 men are fighting hard for pride. Most of these players are playing their last big match and they all are keen to prove a point. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that the ignorant display by the fans of the two teams has turned the Battle of the Maroons into a Battle of the Morons. It’s nothing but a real shame for arguably the best two cricketing schools in Sri Lanka.