100th Kandy Battle of the Blues
The much-anticipated Centennial Battle of the Blues in Kandy, the Trinity-Antonian 100th cricket encounter for the John Halangoda Trophy, fizzled out to a draw as rain interrupted both days’ play at Pallekelle Stadium on March 10 and 11.
Leading up to the encounter, there were many celebrations in Kandy as well as in Colombo hosted by Trinity College and St Anthony’s College, two of the leading educational institutions in Kandy along with their alumni. Celebrating 100 years of comradeship and friendly rivalry, this landmark encounter brought the two schools and hosts of old boys and well-wishers from far and wide together.
Both colleges have produced much-celebrated cricketing personalities and teams which have brought so much honour to their respective alma maters and to the nation over this century. Two of them who have become great ambassadors not only for Sri Lanka but for the game of cricket stand out. Adorned by Old Antonian Muttiah Muralitharan, holder of the world record for the highest number of wickets in Test cricket (800) and Old Trinitian Kumar Sangakkara, probably the best Test cricketer of our time, epitomise their grounding at these institutions, the friendly rivalry and sportsmanship. Sri Lanka can be proud of their achievements and exemplary conduct both on and off the field.
On this encounter, Trinity leads the tally with 23 wins to the 12 by St Anthony’s, and 64 games have been drawn. The last Antonian victory was recorded in 1992 while the Trinitians won in 2013.
Coming in to the Centennial Battle, Trinitians were the hot favourites as they had a well-balanced side under skipper Shanogeeth Shanmuganathan. who also notched up 1000 runs during this season, and coached by Kavinda Jayasinghe. The Trinitians after the revival of cricket at Asgiriya have enjoyed unprecedented success during the past decade by winning the League tournament thrice and winning the 50-over tournament and T20 tournament once. They also produced a couple of young talented Sri Lankan players during this period and this year’s side also included three players who represented the Sri Lankan Youth and Under-19 teams. This year, Trinity was among the top school sides, having won three and losing two matches.
Their batting line-up was strengthened by skipper Shanogeeth, and Sri Lanka youth cap Hasitha Boyagoda who scored three centuries during the season, Hashintha Jayasuriya and Trevon Percival. The Lions take immense pride in their batting but their bowling too has been up to the mark with left-arm paceman Thisam Dilshan, skipper Shanogeeth with his left-arm spin and Vimukthi Nethumal spearheading the attack. They are supported by Hasitha Boyagoda, Shoaib Salahudeen (off spin), Thiagaraja Bhanugoban (leg spin) and Percival with his medium pace.
The Antonians, who competed in the B Group of the All Island Under 19 cricket tournament, are in a transitional period as the college and their cricket wing is laying a foundation to bring back the lost glory to Katugastota. Under the coaching of the experienced Sampath Perera, they managed to perform well in their group but unfortunately missed out on gaining entry to the second round, thus missing out on their quest for a promotion to the top tier. During the season, Antonians managed to record one win but went down in two games.
The Katugastota lads were led by all-rounder and batting prodigy Mohamed Alfer – a fifth year player and wicket-keeper who also can bowl occasional medium pace when required. In batting, he was ably supported by the opening pair Sunera Jayasinghe and Mohamed Absar, followed by Theeksha Gunasingha, Nipun Ashok, Dion Stouter, Janidu Himsara and Gihan Achintha. Left-arm spinner Sandaruwan Dharmaratne was their leading wicket taker and the bowling combination included pacies Virajitha Jayasinghe and Janidu Himsara, right-arm leg-spinner Gihan Achintha and all-rounder Sateesh Wickremarachchi.
The Centennial Battle began amidst fanfare and graced by the chief guest Muttiah Muralitharan and witnessed by former players and captains of both schools. Trinity skipper Shanogeeth won the toss and opted to bat first and they faced little challenges from Antonian bowlers before rain interrupted and umpires called off the first day’s play early with 29 overs remaining to be bowled. By then, Trinity on the back of a 15- run stand for the second wicket between Shanogeeth and Hasitha Boyagoda, managed to put on 204 for 4. Both Shanogeeth (83 runs) and Hasitha (90 runs) were unfortunate to miss out on centuries as they fell to Antonian Mohammed Alawi, the most successful bowler picking up three wickets.
On the second day, once play resumed the Trinitians went for quick runs and at the same time the Antonians picked up two early wickets. However, Trinity College batted for 17 overs and declared at 270 for 5, with Thyagarajah Banugoban and Trewon Weerasooriya anchoring the innings. The Antonians, who came out to bat were soon in trouble as Trinitian Thisaru Dilshan took out the two opening batsmen and they were 16 for 2. From there onwards it was a struggle for the Antonians to survive as wickets kept falling, Vimukthi Kotikawatte spinning a web and grabbing three wickets. Only Janidu Himsara managed to put some decent runs on the board with a top score of 34.
The Antonians were 99 for 6 when continuous rain forced the umpires to call off play.
Hasitha Boyagoda was adjudged Player of the Match for his knock of 90 runs.
Best Batsman: Shanogeeth Shanmuganathan (TCK)
Best Bowler: Vimukthi Kotikawatte (TCK)
Best Fielder: Sandaruwan Dharmarathne (SACK)
Trinity College 270/5 declared: Hasitha Boyagoda 90, Shanogeeth Shanmuganathan 83, Thyagarajah Banugoban 40*, Mohammed Alawi 3/57 & Virajitha Jayasinghe 1/60
St. Anthony’s College 99/6: Janidu Himsara 34, Mohammed Alfer 9, Vimukthi Kotikawatte 3/28, Thisaru Dilshan 2/9.
ANNUAL LIMITED-OVER ENCOUNTER
Trinity College, Kandy
200 (49.3) Thisaru Dilshan 49*, Thiyagaraja Banugoban 33, Hasitha Boyagoda 29, Kalana De Soyza 24, Virajitha Jayasinghe 3/25
St. Anthonys College, Katugastota
153 (45.2) Sachith Wickramarachchi 32, Mohomad Alfar 29, Janidu Himsara 22, Hasitha Boyagoda 3/26, Kalana De Soya 3/17
TRINITY WON BY 47 RUNS