Battle for Yasaratne Tennekoon trophy begins today

The 17th annual ‘Battle of the Golds’ big match between two leading Buddhist schools, namely Sri Rahula College, Katugastota and Sri Sumangala College Kandy, will be played for the Yasaratne Tennakoon trophy today and tomorrow (6 and 7 April) at the Asgiriya International Stadium, in Kandy.

The series between these two schools commenced in 1981 when Sri Sumangala College was then known as St. Paul’s College. It was the lads from the then St. Paul’s College who walked away with honours in the inaugural match and they went on to retain honours by recording a resounding victory the following year.

This was the era when D. H. De Silva, former Municipal Commissioner, who provided tremendous service to the game of cricket in the Central Province was coaching St. Paul’s. It must be recalled that it was this colossal figure who introduced cricket to over 10 lesser known schools in the island and he also played a dynamic role in moulding Kumar Sangakkara, the present Sri Lankan captain as a young cricketer.

In respect to wins in the series, those were the only two and Sri Rahula are yet to record a win. Of course there were times when Rahula had the opportunity came close to winning, but were denied as the lads from Sumangala managed to avoid defeat.

The series between these two schools had its interruptions from time to time due to various reasons, yet they have managed to recover from many disturbances and forge ahead. It has been 25 years since a result has been produced in the series and the last 14 outings have ended in draws. Thus, this year’s encounter will be vital for both teams to break the hoodoo and an interesting battle is on the cards.

Sri Rahula have played 11 matches this season and registered a solitary win against Galagedra Central College and lost one to Asoka Vidyalaya Maradana, while the rest of the matches were drawn, in all of which they managed to gain first innings honours.

Sri Rahula College will be led by fourth year coloursman and top all-rounder Chathuranga Dikkumbura. He, who will be playing his last big match has had a fine season both with the bat and ball. His best performance was against Moratu Vidyalaya where he scored a fine century to place his team on top. As an off spinner and a useful cover fielder, he has played a dynamic role this season.

His deputy, Amith Thilakaratne, who is considered the best all rounder has scored nearly 500 runs and has captured over 50 wickets with a couple of six wicket hauls to his credit.

Right had top order batsman Gihan Viduranga, all-rounder Sunimal Dissanayake and stumper, Nimesha Wanasundra have also made some useful contributions during the season.

It will be Sandun Dilhan and Hasitha Madushanka who will open the innings for Rahula.

Meanwhile, medium pacers Chethiya Amarasooriya, Aruna Sampatha or Sandun Dilhan will open the attack while Sujith Hemantha, Srimal Madushnka provide the necessary back up to the pace attack.

The spin quartet of Sri Rahula consists of Chathuranga Dikkumbura, Sunimal Dissanayake, Roshan Subasinghe and Asitha Warnakulasooriya.

Sri Sumangala College, led by all-rounder and third year coloursman, Shashika Bandra are unbeaten and they reached the climax when they won the joint championship in the Division II tournament sharing honours with St. Thomas’ College, Kotte, last Saturday. Out of their seven outings, they have two outright wins against Ginigathena Central College and Madina College Madawala, while registering first inning victories in four matches with one encounter ending in a no-decision.

Third year coloursman and all-rounder Randhika Ekanayake is the vice captain of the side. The two opening batsmen are the most experienced players in the side. Lakshitha Madushan and second year coloursman and stumper, Kasun Dharshana among whom the batting will revolve around, supported by the middle order comprising Lahiru Chathuranga, Banrara Herath and versatile fourth year player Isuru De Silva.

Right arm medium pacer, Ekanayake will open the attack for Sumangala with second year coloursman and right arm medium pacer, Madusha Premawardana, while skipper and medium pacer, Bandara will operate as the first change bowler. Sumangala is blessed with a strong pace attack that also includes second year player Sameera Marasinghe.

The Sri Sumangala spin attack will be spearheaded by right arm off spinner Chinthka Seneviratne who is also a hard hitting left hand bat and left arm leg spinner, Yasas Siriwardana.

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