A draw looks inevitable when St. Sylvester’s College clashes with Vidyartha College in their 54th Battle of the Babes which will be played at Pallekelle International Cricket Stadium on March 16th and 17th.
According to past records of the 53 battles the Sylvestrians are ahead with 14 wins against 3 by Vidyartha College, while 36 matches have ended in draws. The last time this match produced a decision was in 2009, but in unusual circumstances. When the Sylvestrians were cruising to victory, play had to be halted by the umpires for bad light. No sooner the light improved the umpires decided to resume play but the Vidyarthians refused to come onto the field and the match was awarded to the Sylvestrians. The Vidyarthians last won in 1967 under RM Lafir and they have a 44-year jinx to break.
In the current inter-school cricket season the Sylvestrians are unbeaten to date, having played 16 matches won 4 outright and drawn 12. Vidyartha played 17, won 4 outright, lost 1 and drew 12.
As for the Big Match records, Thushara Kodikara of Vidyartha is the highest individual scorer with 212 not out in 1984 and in the same year GP Sugathadasa of St. Sylvester’s scored 124 to prop up the Sylvestrians. This match was played at Police Grounds Kandy.
The best bowling performance is by Sarath Basnayake of St. Sylvester’s College who had a match bag of 14 for 48 – taking 9/14 in the 1st innings and 5/34 in the 2nd enabling the Sylvestrians to win by an innings.
St. Sylvester’s will be led by fourth year all-rounder Ruwantha Ekanayake who scored over 800 runs last season but has fallen short of it this year. He is a good leg-spinner.
All-rounder Waruna Wijesinghe is the vice captain of the side. He has scored 530 runs and captured 31 wickets with his medium pacers.
Fourth-year player Faiz Ahamed, who started as a spinner, has now developed into a batsman and is the highest scorer for the side with 675 runs.
In addition, to prop up the batting they have Sumedha Dissanayake, Dushan Malalasena, Indunil Samarananda, Hansamal Perera and Dhanuja Hettiarachchi who scored 92 in the last match with Sri Sumangala College.
The new ball attack will be led by Waruna Wijesinghe and Indunil Samarananda, but it is their spinners who hold the key to their success. Left-arm spinner Nimesha Mendis has been the most successful bowler with 89 wickets, Sumedha Dissanayake has 60 wickets with his left-arm spin. Unfortunately leg-spinner Dushan Malalasena has not come off this season.
Vidyartha College will be led by Nilusha Galapitige who has scored over 500 runs and will open the batting. The vice captain is all-rounder Tilina Rupasena who has scored over 800 and taken 83 wickets.
The most successful batsman however is opener Ruwan Bandara who has over 1200 runs to his credit including three centuries. He has created a record for himself becoming the first Vidyarthian to score 1000 runs in a season.
The others from whom runs are expected are Isuru Weerasinghe, Samitha Attanayake, Tharindu Ranaweera, Keshan Gamage, Muditha Elpitiya, Ravindu Dissanayake and Sherad Buddhika.
The pace attack will be in the hands of Samitha Attanayake and Isuru Weerasinghe supported by Muditha Elpitiya and Nipuna Ranaweera. Their main spinner is Tilina Rupasena who has taken 83 wickets. Also, among the wickets are off-spinner Tharindu Ranaweera, Keshan Gamage, Chanaka Ratnayake and Ravindu Dissanayake.
Roland Perera is the head coach of St. Sylvester’s assisted by Sankalpa Gunasekera. Susantha Basnayake is the coach of Vidyartha with Jayantha Kumara as the master-in-charge.
St. Sylvester’s College First X1 cricket squad: Ruwantha Ekanayake (captain), Waruna Wijesinghe (vice captain), Nimesha Mendis, Faiz Ahamed, Dushan Malalasena, Sumedha Dissanayake, Hansamal Perera, Dhanuja Hettiarachchi, Indunil Samarananda, Dilip Maduranga, Harsha Wedikara, Nimesha Piyaratne, Dilan de Mel, Chandula Hasantha, Janitha Perera, Sandeep Singh, Upendra Palamakumbura, Chamod Samararatne, J Angupragasam.
Vidyartha College First X1 cricket squad: Niluka Galapitige (captain), Tilina Rupasena (vice captain), Tharindu Ranaweera, Ruwan Bandara, Keshan Gamage, Isuru Weerasinghe, Samitha Attanayake, Muditha Elpitiya, Ravindu Dissanayake, Nipuna Ranaweera, Chanaka Ratnayake, Dasun Navaratne, Kasun Navaratne, Sherad Buddhika, Sameera Wickremasinghe, Pathum Colombage, Chinthana Lokuhetiya, Sahan Amerasinghe .