The intentions of breaking a 31 year old deadlock seemed far from being achieved as soggy ground conditions and heavy showers robbed off a good chunk of the first days play in the 58th Battle of the Golds Big Match between Prince of Wales College and St. Sebastian’s College which started at De Soysa Stadium Moratuwa, on Friday.
Put into bat, Prince of Wales were 170 for four with Rumesh Thirimanne unbeaten on 69 when a heavy downpour curtailed the first day’s play at 3.25 pm.
The ghosts of the 31-year-old hoodoo haunted the De Soysa Stadium from dawn when soggy ground conditions delayed the start of the match till 11.10 am, reducing the number of hours for the two sides to battle it out for a result.
A valuable 116 run partnership for the third wicket between skipper Shashan Silva and Sri Lanka Under-19 opener Rumesh Thirimanne and the latter’s well made half century were the only highlight of the day, which was otherwise dampened by bad weather.
Batting first, Cambrian openers, wicket keeper bat Marlon Fernando and fresher Nayana Priyanjana gave them a good start. Having found no threats from the pace trio of Sumal Ferdinando, Trevin Fernando and Charith Fernando, the openers reached 49 runs for the first wicket. Introduced to the attack as the fourth bowler leg spinner Anuk de Alwis was the first to draw blood for St. Sebastian’s when he took a return catch to dismiss Marlon Fernando for 16.
Joining Alwis in the attack, off spinner Sanjaya Fernando soon had Prince of Wales losing their second wicket with no addition to the score. With the openers back in the pavilion, the responsibility of doing a repair job fell on the experienced shoulders of skipper Shashan Silva and Rumesh Thirimanne who were in their fourth big match in the series.
The left handers negotiated Sebastianites spin with patience, compiling a valuable 116 runs for the third wicket. The partnership lasted 116 minutes and 209 balls.
While Thirimanne anchored his end scoring 69 runs in 115 balls, Silva fell for 41 becoming the second victim of Alwis. Silva faced 100 balls when he departed with the scoreboard reading 165 for three.
All rounder Chamesh Fernando, who joined Thirimanne could last only three overs before his patience ended to give off spinner Fernando his second wicket. The spin duo Fernando and Alwis gave no chance for Chamesh to free his arms and on the first occasion he tried to sweep Sanjaya, he was caught in the trap. Ishara Fernando, who dropped Thirimanne at slip when he was on 54 compensated for his miss, collecting a hard hit Chamesh Fernando sweep to place the Cambrians at 169 for 4.
Sanka Peiris, who joined Thirimanne was unbeaten on naught while Thirimanne was not out on 69 when heavy showers curtailed play with fifteen minutes to go for tea on the first day.
Thirimanne was in complete control except on one occasion when he edged Alwis to slips. Thirimanne completed his second half century of the series and consumed 115 balls to reach 69 which was inclusive of six fours and one massive six over long off.
With only a three sessions remaining of the 58th Big Match a draw seems a foregone conclusion. Incidentally, it was the second match played on the newly laid pitch at the De Soysa Stadium.
Prince of Wales first innings
N. Priyanjana c C. Fernando
b S. Fernando 24
M. Fernando c & b de Alwis 16
R. Thirimanne not out 69
S. Silva bowled de Alwis 41
C. Fernando c I. Fernando
b S. Fernando 00
S. Peiris not out 00
Extras (5b, 2lb, 13n) 20
Total (for four wickets) 170
Fall of wickets 1-49, 2-49, 3-165, 4-169
Bowling S. Ferdinando 6-2-10-0, T. Fernando 10-4-16-0, C. Fernando 5-1-16-0(2n), A. de Alwis 12.1-1-38-2(5n), S. Fernando 20-3-71-2-(5n), J. Jayawardena 4-1-12-0(1n)