The prestigious Shield – Royal confident, S. Thomas’ determined | Daily News


 

141st Battle of the Blues commences at the SSC today

The prestigious Shield – Royal confident, S. Thomas’ determined

It’s mid-March and the Royal-Thomian that places the big match season in the pinnacle, signifying the month of March starts today at the Singhalese Sports Club (SSC) grounds till Saturday.

The highly-anticipated 141st innings of the Battle of the Blues, starring arch-rivals Royal College, Colombo, and S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, will go all-guns blazing to reclaim and retain the Rt. Hon. D.S. Senanayake Shield.

S. Thomas’, commonly dubbed as Thora, the shield holders, enter the elite match with a bowling unit that will be significantly less in impact sans their last year lead bowler and SL U19 cap Kalana Perera, spinner cum former captain Dellon Peiris and slow-bowler Shannon Fernando.

Royal, who will be breathing a sigh of relief for it will be looking to exploit the void to the maximum. However, the contest only grows in curiosity as to how the shield holders will counteract to that.

The win-loss-draw record of the past 140 encounters is interestingly evenly poised with both the contenders having 35 wins apiece, and as many as 70 draws.

Yesteryear Royal captain Kavindu Madarasinghe will remain behind the wickets. His captaincy role has been handed over to middle-order batsman Thevindu Senaratne.

They’ll not only have to battle their opponents, but also have to come to terms with the sun-soaked SSC.

Senaratne, as the host this time speaking on the big occasion said they’re 100 percent confident that the win would be theirs.

They will be walking to the middle with the unbeaten tag, this season, and Senaratne was banking on that confidence to better and beat it over the next three days.

Without any hesitancy he accepted the underdog tag. “We lost last year, and because of that we are the underdogs. So, our hope is to bring back the shield to Reid Avenue,” he said.

Senaratne, batting at no. 5 or 6, admitted there is a bit of pressure that the shield isn’t at the College.

Talking on the extra preparations to regain the shield he said, “Our weakness was fielding and bowling. From those departments, we have done pretty well this season”.

The U-19 run up to the occasion reads four outright wins, six first innings wins and three draws.

Giving an insight about the squad, he disclosed, the team is stacked with 11 coloursmen.

Senaratne, also had a message to his arch-rivals saying, “Do the modifications and keep the shield. So, on the 14 March, it would be at Reid Avenue.”

On the other hand, Thomian skipper Thevin Eriyagama, expressing his views on the same remarked, “Our plan is to win the big match this year, just like last year. We are taking it as a normal match. We are planning to keep the shield at Mount Lavinia.”

“We thought the practise sessions would have gone easily. But, it’s harder than last year and our boys have worked at it to win four outright and draw 12 out of 16 matches,” he said of the U-19 results.

Speaking of his side, Eriyagama explained from the last year’s winning-side four have left.

“This year we got three spots, so far. We’ll have a competitive game with Royal and I wish them all the best. I hope one of the teams will emerge victorious,” Eriyagama said, in his calm message to his rivals.

The Royal-Thomian shortly known as “RoyTho”, a three-day affair, speaks big volumes as the only second uninterrupted and unbroken cricket series locally and globally, unmatched and unsurpassed by even the great “Ashes”.

Every year it had renewed, it has continued to leave copious amounts of on-and-off the field memories rejoiced by present and past students of these top schools, regretted too, depending on the outcome.

This has become a larger-than-life event, the latter, specifically, fly down to soak and sync in nostalgia.

Both the teams are locked and loaded with couple of similarities. In a common aspect, Royal by Reid Avenue and Thomians by the sea have two U-19 players, apiece.

They also come into the hot contest bragging as unbeaten and unconquered teams, which brings colour and strength to the sides.

The pomp and pageantry cricket aside the Royal-Thomian at least, since the last few years is increasingly becoming a game of cricket with a cause.

Continuing a thoughtful cause from yesteryear this year too, Rs. 1000 would be added for every run scored and Rs. 10,000 for every wicket that falls.

The proceeds of this collection would be directed to support and empower selected deserving schools, chosen in direct consultation with the principal of Royal and warden of STC.

Accordingly, previous year’s collection amounted to a substantial Rs. 5,143,000 and this edition’s amount will be directly donated to ten deserving educational institutions for cricket gears.

 


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