|Wednesday, 2 April 2003|
Rajans in historic win over Ananda
by Chris Dhambarage
Dharmaraja College Kandy recorded a historic win over Ananda College to emerge as the new champions of the Elephant Lemonade Cup inter school knock out limited overs cricket tournament concluded last week.
The Rajans clinched the schools Premier knock out trophy for the first time and they did it in the most spectacular manner overcoming their more fancied opponents by just one wicket in the final played at the SSC grounds, Maitland Place. They also became only the second outstation school to win the title after Dharmapala MV Pannipitiya emerged victorious in 1986.
This was also the second time the two schools were meeting in the final after the 1985 game where on that occasion Ananda emerged champions. This time they went in as rank underdogs but dished out some outstanding cricket to turn the game in their favour.
Their path to the final too was a dramatic one where they edged out even a better outfit D. S. Senanayake College by a close margin of four runs in the semifinals. The Rajans did not perform anything extra ordinary during the 'A' division league tournament and even lost their annual one day match against traditional rivals Kingswood College Kandy.
They however had the opportunity of avenging that defeat in the knock out stage and they looked a completely different outfit in the latter stages of the season. They improved tremendously as the tournament progressed and had the opportunity of overcoming a couple of top teams on their way into the grand final. The Rajans also enjoyed a great amount of luck as they beat the league champions Royal on a toss of a coin in the quarterfinals.
In the final they proved that they are capable of playing under pressure by snatching a thrilling one wicket win and that too while performing away from home. This was certainly a new experience for the entire side playing in a major cup final at the headquarters of Sri Lankan cricket for the first time. But throughout the final they looked a determined side and went about their task as if they were performing on their home grounds.
They realised very early how important is this game for all of them and kept their cool until the mission was completed. This was quite clear considering the manner in which their last pair of Asanka Samarakoon and Madhuka Rajapaksa held their nerve to collect the winning runs in the last ball of the 50th over. The winning run may have come from a misfield but that would not take away any gloss from their success which was achieved through sheer hard work and determination.
Dharmaraja were quite satisfied to restrict the Anandians to a total of 202 runs which was anyway a challenging total especially in a final of this nature. The Sebastianites had collapsed sensationally a couple of days ago in the semifinals while chasing a total of just under two hundred runs. D. S. Senanayake College too met with the same fate when they fell short by four runs chasing a similar total.
The Rajans had enough experience with them to pull off the game with Chamara Kapugedera playing a significant role in their success. His knock of 68 kept their hopes alive to a great extent despite the fall of wickets at regular intervals from the other end.
Off spinner Thilina Kumarasinghe was making run making difficult to the opposition with splendid figures of 5 for 28. But it was Dharmaraja who had the final laugh when their last pair scampered through for a second run in the final delivery signalling a memorable victory to the Kandy school.
Royal's early exit from the Elephant Lemonade Cup inter school limited overs knock out tournament helped them to compete in another competition where they stamped their class winning the inaugural Quadrangular tournament played for the Peace Trophy.
The 'A' division league champions underlined their superiority in all departments of the game and trounced St. John's College Jaffna by a convincing margin in the final played on their home grounds at Reid Avenue. Their victory was made possible by opener Dimithri Siriwardena who stroked his second century of the tournament.
After a disappointing performance both in the Battle of the Blues Big Match and in the Mustangs Trophy one day match, Siriwardena got his act together well to emerge as the most successful batsman in this tournament. He was in excellent form from the very first outing and his contribution in the final of course completely sealed the game in Royal's favour.
Another significant contribution came from their fast bowler Tharaka Kottahewa who had the honour of completing a hattrick in a preliminary round fixture. He spearheaded their attack quite successfully in the absence of Ganganath Ratnayake who was selected to represent the Sri Lanka Schools team in the BCCSL Quadrangular tournament. Naveen Dias too had a good tournament especially in the final where he scored a half century and captured five wickets.
St. John's College looked the better side among the other three schools which participated in this tournament from Jaffna. But it was a great experience for all of them to have played in a tournament of this nature which they would cherish for a long time. There were a couple of good individual contributions from them but the performance of C. Akilan the captain of St. John's College was really encouraging.
Ananda Sastralaya Kotte and St. John's College Nugegoda played out a draw in their Battle of Sri Jayawardenapura worked off at the R. Premadasa Stadium. St. John's College made certain that the game would end in a draw by occupying the crease almost the entire first day.
But in doing so they collected only 207 runs while maintaining a scoring rate of just over two runs per over.
They were the underdogs no doubt but they completely spoiled any chances of a result by facing a total of 93 overs in their first innings.
Ananda Sastralaya overtook their opponents total quite convincingly before declaring at 224 for 9. Roshan Laksiri played the anchor role with a fluent half century and there were also good contributions from Saranga Perera, Supun Perera and S. Devinda.
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