83rd Battle of the Saints
The 83rd Josephian-Peterite Battle of the Saints ended in a draw at the P. Sara Stadium. Coming in to the game, the Peterites, coached by former skipper and Sri Lanka player Malinda Warnapura and led by their dashing right-hand batsman Lakshina Rodrigo, were the favourites as they had an excellent season which included five outright wins.
In addition, their bowlers and batsmen were in prime form, with spinners Ameen Miflal and Chathura Obeysekara having captured 175 wickets between them this season. Ameen achieved the milestone of 100 wickets in his debut season, and was expected to trouble the Josephians. In batting department, Rodrigo and Santhush Gunathilaka were at the doorstep of 1000-run mark. Santhush managed to reach this milestone in the second innings of the big match, while Lakshina crossed it during the quarter-final match against Thomians, after the big matches.
On the other hand, St Joseph’s College, coached by veteran Sri Lankan cricketer cum coach Roger Wijesuriya and led by Harin Cooray, son of former Josephian cricketer Hiran Cooray, managed to register three outright wins this season and they were capable of taking the fight to the Peterite camp. For the Darley Road team, Nipun Sumanasinghe, who scored 1000 runs this season, along with Dineth Madurawala, who got the Josephians out of trouble a few times during the season with his bat, and all-rounder and Sri Lanka youth player Jehan Daniel, along with Harin Cooray, were expected to carry more responsibility during the big match, which they had not won for eight years.
Josephian captain Cooray won the toss and elected to bat first, but his team was soon in trouble losing 5 wickets for 10 runs even before the crowd started to settle in their seats at P. Sara Stadium. However, Jehan Daniel came to their rescue and ended the day as the hero for the Josephians with a grand unbeaten 124 runs. Daniel was involved in two useful partnerships with Shewon Fonseka (56 runs for the sixth wicket) and Pahan Perera (93 runs for the eighth wicket), and St Joseph’s College managed to end their inning at 205 runs.
The Peterites, although having a superior batting line-up found it difficult to score runs against some tight bowling, and due to some poor shot selections ended day one at 138 runs for 5. The struggle continued the second morning and the Peterites ended their innings at the 60-over mark (as per the match rule) at 188 for 8. Manelker de Silva with 51 runs and Shalith Fernando with 47 runs were the main contributors.
The Josephians, who came out for the second innings with a lead of 17, were forced to go on the defensive as they started losing wickets at regular intervals, though not at the same pace of their first inning. After losing the first wicket without a run on the board, they laboured to 50 for 4. First innings hero Daniel came to his sides’ rescue once again. He and Jehan Fernandopulle managed to put on a valuable partnership of 52 runs for the sixth wicket. However, with their departure, at tea, the Josephians were still not out of woods as they were at 114 for 7, a lead of 131, with the final session remaining.
Harin Cooray (25) through a stubborn partnership with Pahan Perera (19) managed to steer them to safety. St Joseph’s declared at 163 for 8, setting an impossible target of 181 runs to win in 15 overs. Peterites took up the challenge, sportingly going for quick runs. They ended the day and the match at 99 for no loss, with all-rounder Santhush Gunatilleke smashing an unbeaten 52 and reaching 1000 runs for the season. No doubt this was a memorable match for him as well as for Jehan Daniel which both will cherish for the rest of their lives.
St. Joseph’s 1st innings: 205 (Shewon Fonseka 26, Pahan Perera 25, Jehan Daniel 124 not out and Santhush Gunatilleke 3 for 34, Manelker de Silva 3 for 35)
St. Peter’s 1st innings: 188 for 8 (Shalith Fernando 47, Lakshina Rodrigo 19, Manelker de Silva 51, Ranmith Jayasena 25 and Havin Perera 1 for 24, Jehan Daniel 01 for 31, Harin Cooray 01 for 32, Sumanasinghe 4 for 49)
St. Joseph’s 2nd innings: 163 for8 declared (Thashan Perera 25, Jehan Daniel 42, Pahan Perera 19not out, Harin Cooray 25 and Santhush Gunatilleke 1 for 06, Manelker de Silva 2 for 21, Ameen Miflal 3 for 42)
St. Peter’s 2nd innings: 99 for no loss (in 15 overs) (Santhush Gunatilleke not out 52, Anishka Perera not out 41)