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POSTED AT 10:28 AM 05-03-2019

Royal determined to give off their best

140th Battle of the Blues

ROYAL COLLEGE CRICKET TEAM 2019: Standing (from left ) – Dimal Wijesekera, Kavindu Pathiratne, Bhagya Dissanayake, Ahan Sanchitha, Kavindu Madarasinghe(Capt), Pasindu Sooriyabandara, Manula Perera, Kamil Mishara, Lahiru Madushanka Squatting – (from left) Dasis Manchanayake, Gishan Balasuriya, Shehan Herath, Kaushan Kulasooriya, Tharusha Rukshan, Isivara Dissanayake, Tithira Weerasuriya. picture by – herbert perera     

Royal College, Colombo are determined to do well when they take on traditional rivals S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia in the 140th Battle of the Blues three-day cricket encounter that will be played at the SSC grounds from March 7, to 9.

The Reid Avenue boys are famous for their fighting qualities as they proved in the 137th encounter. Trailing heavily on the first innings, they came back strongly on the third day to pull off a stunning four-wicket win by beating the Thomians in 2016.

The Royalists will once again go in as the underdogs, but they are determined to fight back and turn the game in their favour.

Leading Royal this year will be top order batsman cum last years big match saviour left hander Kavindu Madarasinghe, who is also the wicket keeper of the side.He has scored 425 runs this season inclusive of one century and one half century.

Last years skipper and Sri Lanka under 19 national player right hander Pasindu Sooriyabandara has let his willow to do the talking with 850 runs this season with two centuries and 6 fifties being the top run getter for the school including a double century.

Besides Sooriyabandara, the other Royalists who have scored heavily this season are Ahan Wickramasinghe (two hundreds and four fifties) and Isiwara Dissanayake (two hundreds and three fifties). Both have scored over 700 runs. another Sri Lanka national under 19 player left hander Kamil Mishara has scored over 500 runs including an exceptional knock of 251 against Ananda College Colombo.

Mean while right hander Bhagya Dissanayake also has chipped in with nearly 400 runs with one century and a fifty.

Royal could boast of many bowlers who have performed really well this season, with left-arm spinner Gishan Balasuriya heading the honours list with almost 50 wickets. Both right-arm off spinner Kawshan Kulasooriya 35 wickets and left arm spinner Manula Perera with close to 30 wickets too have been enjoying a good time with the ball.

There is also plenty of variety in the Royal spin department with Kamil Mishara the off-spinner capturing nearly 20 wickets. Hence they could keep their options open when it comes to their bowling department.

Royal has emerged victorious on five occasions this season being unbeaten as well, where they beat Sri Sumangala College, Debaraweva Maha Vidyalaya, Henegama Central College, St.Marys College Chilaw and Bandaranayake College Gampaha.

The Battle of the Blues encounter started way back in 1880 with Ashley Walker leading the Royal College outfit in the first encounter and winning the game by 56 runs.

So far out of the 139 encounters that have been played, Royal have won on 35 occasions. Jagath Pattiarachchi (100 not out in 1974), Sumithra Warnakulasuriya (197 in 1980) and Pasindu Sooriyabandara, a member of the Royal College team this year (123 in 2016) remain as the only Royalists to score centuries on debut.

The honour of making the highest opening partnership goes to Sukitha Senaratne and Malinga Maligaspe who added 218 runs for Royal in 2006 while the highest partnership for any wicket is shared by Anushka Polonowita and Yasaswin Dharmaratne who added 254 runs for the 3rd wicket in 1996. Neil Joseph ( 113 in 1925 and 133 in 1926) has the rare distinction of scoring more than one century during his Royal-Thomian career for Royal. Only two Royalists, Malinda Thotuwilage (95 & 108) and Ganganath Ratnayake (75 & 111 not out) have achieved a rare batting double (a century and a fifty) in the same game for the Royalists in 2001 and 2003 respectively. Royal made the highest team total in the series 432/7 at SSC in 2006. The lowest Royal team score is 9 all out at Galle Face in 1885.

For Royal the leading batsmen are Sumithra Warnakulasuriya (1980-82) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (2007-11) - both having scored 386 runs in their Royal-Thomian careers. Rajapaksa has also taken 14 wickets for 306 runs, establishing himself as one of the most successful all-rounders at the Royal-Thomian. J.R. Jayewardene, who became the first President of Sri Lanka, donned the Royal cap in 1925.

Notable Royalists who have played in the Royal-Thomian cricket match are J.R. Jayewardene, Sir John Lionel Kotalawela, Sir Forester Obeysekera, Neil Joseph, Robert de Krester, former Army Commander . Russel. Heyn, Churchill Hector Gunasekara, B. W. Bawa, L.B. Bulankulame Eran Wickramaratne, Ranjan Madugalle, Gamini Goonesena, Fredrick C. de Saram, Donald Rutnam, ex Navy commander Basil Gunasekara, Muhammad Ajward Macan Markar, Fritzroy Crozier, Nihal Kodituwakku, Daya Sahabandu, Asantha ce Mel, Sudath Pasqual, Jayantha Amerasinghe, Rohan Jayasekera, Roshan Jurangpathy, Jehan Mubarak, Pradeep Jayaprakash Kithuruwan Vithanage, Kusal Perera, and Bhanuka Rajapaksa.

This year the Royal team is coached by experienced former Royal College, Sri Lanka ‘A’ and Sri Lanka national cricketer Jehan Mubarak.

Royal last emerged victorious in 2016 under Geeshath Panditharatne. Last year the game ended in an exciting draw.

Royal College First XI Cricket Squad: Kavindu Madarasinghe (Captain), Pasindu Sooriyabandara, Isiwara Dissanayake, Kawshan Kulasooriya, Thevindu Senaratne Ahan Wickramasinghe, Sehan Herath, Dimal Wijesekara, Gishan Balasooriya, Bhagya Dissanayake, Thimira Weeraainghe, Manula Perera, Tharusha Rukshan, Lahiru Madushanka, Dasis Manchanayake, Kavindu Pathiratne, Kamil Mishara. 

Indika Welagedara