Joes to end 11-year jinx, Petes to prevail or another draw? | Daily News



Joes to end 11-year jinx, Petes to prevail or another draw?

St Joseph’s College captain Johanne De Silva & St Peter’s College captain  Shannon Fernando
St Joseph’s College captain Johanne De Silva & St Peter’s College captain Shannon Fernando

The stage is set as the “86th Battle of the Saints”, will be fought tooth-and-nail by St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya, and St. Joseph’s College, Maradana, will unfold at the P. Sara Oval, today and tomorrow, battling it out for the Rev. Fr. Maurice Le Goc Memorial Trophy.

In the past 85 encounters between these two leading Catholic schools, Joes have won the trophy 12 times, while their opponents Peters have lifted the trophy 10 times and the balance 63 producing draws.

The last win of the series was registered in 2016, which, in fact, was by the boys from Bambalapitiya, under the captaincy of off-spinner Vinu Mohotty, and it goes without saying - the lads from both schools will go all-out for the most-coveted prize of their school career.

The Josephians, on the other hand, last registered a victory as far back as in 2008, under the leadership of opening batsman Ruwantha Fernandopulle.

Petes in their road to their big occasion have recorded two outrights wins, six first-innings wins, two draws and four losses on 1st innings from the now halted U-19 season.

Joes leading as the host for the 86th episode for their fair share go into the match with a supreme record as the defending champions of the U19 two-day contest.

Unlike their opposition, the Joes are armed with three SL U-19 caps and that is guaranteed to be an added-advantage.

However, the current holders, Peters, too, are strengthened with players, who carry X-factors. Their lanky left-arm pacie, Vinuda Liyanage, was the first bowler to pick up a hat-trick against St. Benedict’s, in an U19 encounter.

Peterite captain cum wicket-keeper Shannon Fernando, reflecting on the occasion stated: “This season, we have been working hard and have done really well. In the beginning we were not actually there. We didn’t have any practice match at the beginning of the season, after playing a few matches the boys were shaping up really well. The boys really worked hard in the nets. So, I think the key to success is working hard. Bowlers and batsmen are really shaping up well.

“I’m pretty confident leading my side. We have a very young side and I’m confident with my boys, because as a team, we are growing well. Team spirit is there. As a team, we help each other. So that makes us better players,” he said on leading his side.

Fernando added, “I always have to keep on motivating them and push them a little bit higher. It is not easy but as a captain the youngsters are really helping me. I’m really happy with the team. Captaincy is always something I have dreamt since childhood. It is always a dream come true. It’s not just saying that I have got the captaincy and yes, have got to achieve the best part.”

There was a tie for the leading wicket-taker from Bambalapitiya with Ruwin Seneviratne and Kanishka Maduwantha, both with around 60 wickets, each. Peterite’s leading run-scorer is Nipunaka Fonseka with 550 runs against his name.

Giving an insight to his team he explained there are four-to-five youngsters coming in this season. They will be playing their first year.

In a message to his rivals, he left on record, “Josephians yes we missed a few things in the past years. But this year I’m pretty sure we are going to give what we missed in the last few years. We are going to give the best in the big match. The 86th Battle of the Saints is on St. Peter’s College hands.”

His counterpart captain Johanne de Zilva commenting said, “We have gone through a lot of experience through the old captains of this school. I’m hoping to bring back the trophy to Maradana. For the last few years we have been targeting this year because we have got a very good side. So our preparations were really good this season.

“It’s a precious opportunity I got from college. I’m happy to lead this institution,” he said on the feeling of leading his unit into a big match. “Actually we have a very good experienced side. That’s our main part rather than talent.”

Sheran Fonseka crossed the elusive mark of 1000 runs, and, thereby, became the top run-maker while the highest wicket-taker for his side is Dunith Wellalage with 55 scalps.

The fast-bowler, too, giving out a warning-like message said, “The 86th battle of the saints deserves, Maradana. Beware about it, watch out, the Josephian juggernaut is on its way.”

Former Joes captain of 1981 Nirmalal Perera and ex-skipper of St. Peter’s College in 1994 Damian Perera will grace the occasion as chief guests.

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