Two strong teams enter 68th Battle of the Golds


by Reemus Fernando

A closely contested match is what could be expected when formidable Prince of Wales meet arch rivals St. Sebastian’s today and tomorrow in the 68th Battle of the Golds at De Soysa Park.

Not many Big Matches see Sri Lanka Under-19 players compete against each other. The fans of Moratuwa are blessed to witness for yet another occasion some of country’s top cricketers compete in the annual encounter.

The Sebs have two Sri Lanka Under-19 players in their camp in left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama and middle order batsman Nuwanindu Fernando who both played in the ICC Youth World Cup.

The Cambrians have Vishwa Chathuranga who represented Sri Lanka as a Youth player.

The Cambrians have just concluded one of their most successful campaigns in Under-19 cricket in recent times. They are the third ranked team behind Mahinda and Maris Stella in the 36 team league tournament.

They registered seven outright victories with the win against St. Peter’s being the most notable. Their other victories were against St. Mary’s, Kegalle, St. John’s, Panadura, St. Anthony’s, Wattala, Isipatana, Wesley and D.S. Senanayake. The defeats were at the hands of Maris Stella and S. Thomas’.

Off-spinner and skipper Savindu Peiris and left-arm spinner Kaumal Nanayakkara were responsible for most of their dominant performances. Peiris with 98 wickets to his credit and Nanayakkara with a bag of 74 wickets are the spinners waiting to exploit the conditions at De Soysa Park.

They have a strong pace department as well with Naduka Fernando and Avindu Fernando shouldering to a good chunk of that duty.

Chathuranga is their leading batsmen with some 800 runs against his name. Avindu (around 650), Sanoj Dharshika (around 600), Suwath Mendis (around 500) and Sandun Fernando form the backbone of the line up.

The Sebs under Tharusha Fernando could not match the success of their counterparts as two of their leading players were not available for a better part of the season due to their commitments for the Sri Lanka Under-19s. They managed to enter the knockout stage of the tournament thanks to the two outright victories registered in the tournament proper.

Skipper Fernando lead the batting for Sebs this season with an aggregate of over 1000 runs and contributes with off spin (35 wickets).

Malintha Peiris wicket keeper 38 victims over 500 runs

Nuwanindu Fernando 3rd year coloursman Sri Lanka Under-19 youth World Cup batsman off-spinner

Aggressive left-hander Nishitha Abilash (over 600 runs) and Shanel Fernando (over 600 runs) open batting for them.

Stylish middle order batsman Praveen Cooray (over 400) and Janishka Perera who also bowls medium pace make strong that department. .

While Tashik Perera (30 wickets) and Gihan Senanayake share the new ball duties, left-arm spinners Praveen Jayawickrama and Vinuja Ranasinghe are expected to play vital roles in the spin department. Ranasinghe got the most of the opportunity in the absence of Youth World Cup players to bag over 50 wickets for the season.

With some of the leading players of the Schools Cricket arena featuring in the two teams a close contest is expected.

Cambrians who have not tasted victory since a Pemlal Fernando led team won in 1977 lead the victory tally 6-3. St. Sebastian’s last won in 2011 under the captaincy of Sanitha de Mel.

(Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

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