76th Battle of the Saints evenly matched

Two evenly placed teams, St. Peter’s College and St. Joseph’s College will meet in the 76th Battle of the Saints encounter scheduled to commence on Friday at P. Sara Stadium.

St. Joseph’s captained by Dinal Dhambarage and St. Peter’s skippered by Chathura Peiris guide teams consisting of some formidable junior cricketers who are separated only by the different exposures they had during the past several months.

St. Peter’s skipper Chathura Peiris who had the distinction of guiding Sri Lanka Under-19 team to the ICC World Cup had in his junior national team three of his school mates, namely Andri Berenger, Akshu Fernando and Lahiru Jayaratne. The exposure they got playing against some of the best Under-19 teams in the world will come in handy when they take on their arch-rivals.

Despite having some formidable bowling assets, the Joes did not have a single cricketer doing national duty this season in New Zealand. But they were not disappointed as they got their full strength team throughout the season to record five outright victories.

Going in with their full strength throughout the season, they beat Isipatana, Moratu Vidyalaya, President’s College, Wesley College, and Trinity College. They conceded a defeat at the hands of Royal.

Meanwhile, the Petes playing without their top four players during a better part of the season recorded three victories and went down to Dharmapala College in one of the tournament matches. When they played with their full strength team they were better in the first term matches.

With the full strength team available for the annual battle and with some of the players who experienced the bitter taste of a Joe-Pete defeat in 2008 making the line up, St. Peter’s will be eager to pull off a victory which they have not enjoyed for the last three decades.

The Petes have a balanced team. They have four players who have scored over 500 runs and the leading players who played less than seven matches have averaged over 35 runs. Angelo Emmanuel, Denham Perera, Nilochana Perera and Shehan Fernando are the players to score over 500 runs. Their bowling is spearheaded by pacemen Peiris, Jayaratne and Nilochana Perera, while Angelo Emmanuel, Akshu Fernando and several others make a strong spin department.

For Joes, Chathuranga Kumara and skipper Dinal Dhambarage have been consistent when they share the new ball while Roscoe Thattil and Supeshala Jayathilake were among leading wicket takers in the spin department.

For batting they will rely on Chathuranga Kumara, who is closing on to 1000 runs. Jaan Jayasinghe and Enrico Silva have scored over 500 runs this season.

St. Joseph’s lead the victory tally 12-7 in this 75 year old annual battle. They last won under Ruwantha Fernandopulle in 2008 while their counterparts have not won a match in 32 years. Petes last won under Suraj Abeysekera in 1978.

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