Thomians no easy beats
S.Thomas’ College, Mt.Lavinia are determined to repeat their fighting
qualities when they take on their traditional rivals Royal College,
Colombo in their 131st Battle of the Blues three-day cricket encounter
which starts at SSC grounds, Colombo tomorrow.
The Mount Lavinia boys are famous for their fighting qualities and
they last proved what the Thomian grit is all about at last year’s
encounter. Trailing by 214 runs on the first innings, the Thomians are
reduced to 21 for 2 in the second essay – still needing 193 runs to
avert innings defeat, at last year’s encounter.
But it was then that they opened a new chapter in their book on
Thomian grit. Opener Faheem Saleem scored a match saving knock of 165.
No.4 bat R. Nirrushan too made a sparkling century to shatter Royal’s
hopes of a convincing win.
True that the Thomians would once again go in as the underdogs but
they are determined to fight back and turn the game in their favour with
only five coloursmen in their side.
Leading S.Thomas’ will be fourth-year-coloursman Dinesh Walpita, a
right-arm quick bowler and right hand bat. All-rounder Walpita is also a
safe fielder at any given position.
Tasting the new ball attack for S.Thomas’ will be freshers Umesh
Fernando and Kavindu Perera. The latter has been more productive of the
two, scoring nearly 500 runs this season. But the Thomian run machine’s
turbo power would be generated by Nuwan Kavinda.
Despite playing as a fresher, Kavinda has let his willow to do the
talking with a rich harvest of 1,089 runs at an average of 47.35 this
season with a top score of 121 against Richmond.
Kavinda is the only Thomian centurion this season though a couple of
his team mates have narrowly missed that opportunity – Pasan Wijewardena
(91) and Ashen Fernando (83). Besides Kavinda, the other Thomian batsmen
who have scored heavily this season are Chamodh Pathirana, Ashen
Fernando, Lalindra Peiris and Kavindu Perera who have shared over 2,000
When it comes to experience in the Thomian team, skipper Walpita has
two more second year coloursmen to support him - Lalindra Peiris and
All-rounder Lalindra Peiris is a right hand batsman and right-arm off
spinner. He is a clever slip fielder who is capable of even half
chances. Sachin Peiris, who keeps wickets for S.Thomas’, is also a
reliable left hand middle order batsman.
Unlike Royalists, who have spin magician Maneesha Thathirigoda, the
Thomians could not boast of any bowler who has performed extraordinarily
this season. Nevertheless, their bowlers have clicked well as a team
with left-arm leg spinner Neomal Wickremesekera heading the honours list
with 41 wickets at an average of 20.22 apiece.
Medium paceman Pathirana too has been enjoying a good time with the
ball, capturing nearly 35 wickets. Unfortunately, fresher Nilaksha
Fernando has not been able to make any impact with his right arm fast
medium bowling but is determined to make it happen when it matters most.
Fernando is likely to open the new ball attack with captain Walpita. The
Thomians could keep their options open with the possibility of left-arm
medium pace of Dimitri Dolapihilla, who could turn out to be an
effective bowler at the first or second change.
There is plenty of variety in the Thomian spin department with Neomal
Wickremasekera (left-arm leg spinner) and Madushan Ravichandrakumar
(right-arm leg spinner).
S. Thomas have emerged victorious twice during their 18 outings this
season. They have beaten Richmond and Joseph Vaz while losing a key game
When the Battle of the Blues last produced a result in 2007, S.Thomas’
emerged victorious under Ashan Peiris. But the last two games have ended
Former Sri Lanka Test captain Duleep Mendis heads the list of
celebrated former Thomian cricketers. Though Saleem came so much closer
to a new milestone, Mendis continues to hold the record for the highest
individual innings for S. Thomas’ with his marathon knock of 184 runs
made in 1972. It was his second successive big match century, having
made a blistering 103 in 1971. He went on to lead Sri Lanka national
team after becoming the first Sri Lankan to score twin centuries in the
one-off Test in Chennai in 1982.
B.M.C.S. Mendis is the only other Thomian to score successive big
match hundreds, making 124 and 112 in 1992 and 1993 respectively.
The highest ever Thomian partnership of 238 runs was registered by
Ashan Peiris (161) and Nisham Mazahir (162) in 2007, erasing the
previous best of - 186 runs between Ian Pieris (123) and Geoff
Wijesinghe (64) in 1953 which stood for 54 long years as the highest
ever Thomian partnership in the series. Last year, Faheem Saleem (165)
and R. Nirrushan (104) came closer to the all-time record of Peiris and
Mazahir but they fell 30 runs short in departing after a 209-run
Opener Upeka Fernando, who played from 1995 to 1998, holds the
highest individual aggregate for S. Thomas’ 394 runs.
S.Thomas’ maiden ‘big match’ win was registered in 1882 under F.W.
MacDonnel who was the losing captain the first two encounters. He also
led S.Thomas for their second big match victory in 1883.
Galle Face grounds, which hosted 13 encounters until 1912 and the CCC
grounds have been the happy hunting venues for S. Thomas’. Out of their
34 big match wins, nine each have been registered at these two grounds.
The Thomian outfit may not look that stronger on paper, compared to
their traditional rivals from Cinnamon Gardens, but they are capable of
reaching the peak at the most important assignment for the season. The
Thomians have often done that and there could not be any exception this
Hence, Royal will not be in a position to take any chances or take
things for granted. The lads from Mount Lavinia are capable of applying
pressure on to their opponents from the word go and Royal should expect
a stronger challenge form the Thomians.