Royal holds upper hand with the help of batting power
A superb century by Heshan Kumarasiri (127), backed by three good
half centuries by skipper Imal Liyanage (80), opener Isuru Gunatillake
(67) and Milan Abeysekera (58) helped Royal College, Colombo to hold the
upper hand on the second day of their 133rd Battle of the Blues
three-day cricket encounter against S.Thomasí College, Mount Lavinia
continued at SSC grounds, Colombo yesterday.
Royalist centurian Heshan
Kumarasiri who made a
well-compiled 127 in the
Royal first innings at the
SS C Grounds yesterday.
Royalist Isuru Gunathillake pulls a ball from Thomian off
spinner Thilaksha Sumanasiri, watched by Thomian skipper
and stumper Sachin Peiris. Picture by Nissanka Wijerathne
Royal, in reply to S.Thomasí first innings total of 325 for 9
declared, made a healthy-looking 413 for 9 declared. Thus, the Reid
Avenue boys bounced back to take a valuable 88-run first innings lead.
The Thomians were 27 for no loss in their second essay, still training
by 61 runs with all ten second innings wickets intact.
Earlier in the day, it was that captainís knock of 80 by Liyanage and
a brilliant 67 by opener Gunatllake that set the pace for a mammoth
Royal total of 413 for 9 declared Ė the second highest total in the
series by Royal behind their record of 432 for 7 declared registered in
Replying to S. Thomasí healthy first innings total of 325 for 9
declared, after being put into bat, Royal opened the second day at their
overnight total of 53 for one with Gunatillake on 31 not out and Poorna
Aluthge yet to open his account. They progressed to 168 for 4 at lunch
with Liyanage on 38 n.o. and Heshan Kusumsiri on 10 n.o.
S.Thomasí had early success last morning when overnight batsman
Aluthge departed for 12, caught by Javed Bongso off former Thomian
captain Chamod Pathirana. They bagged two more Royal wickets before
lunch, that of Sampath de Silva and Gunatillake. De Silva became an
unfortunate victim of a run out, responding to a call from Gunatillake
for a single which appeared to be never there.
Gunatillake played a cautious innings to make sure that Royal go past
that 300-plus Thomian total. He picked only the bad deliveries to go for
his shots while he respectfully treated good balls. It was his superb
67, that came off 133 balls in 188 minutes with two sixers and nine
fours, that gave Royal a solid foundation to put an equally clever total
on the board. However, Gunatillake departed shortly before lunch when he
was trapped leg before wicket, off Pathirana.
Skipper Liyanage who cam at the fall of the third wicket, helped
Royal to consolidate. It was a treat to watch when Liyanage was in full
cry, showing no mercy to Thomian bowlers to score 80 runs off 79 balls
with one six and 12 power-packed boundaries. But Liyanage, on 62, was
lucky to be dropped by Bongso at slips off Madushan Ravichandrakumar.
Royalís 100 runs came in 149 minutes off 205 balls. But they
accelerated their scoring though Gunatillake and Liyanage to reach the
200-run mark in 225 minutes off 318 balls for the loss of four wickets.
Kumarasiri signaled his teamís 200-run mark shortly after lunch, driving
the last ball of Thilaksha Sumanasiriís sixth over to the cover
But it was Kumarasiriís effort that finally saw Royal crossing
400-run mark, only for the second time in the 13-decade-old series. His
batting was a treat to watch as he made a galaxy of strokes, frustrating
Thomians bowlers to all parts of the ground.
His knock of 127 runs included 19 fours and came off 173 balls.
Abeysekera, in making a blistering 58 with seven boundaries, gave
Kumarasiri a good support. Kumarasiri became only the 26th Royalist to
score a century in the Battle of the Blues series.
The duo shared a record 141-run stand for the sixth wicket after
Royal were reduced to 223 for 5, still 102 runs short of the Thomian
first innings total. But Kumarasiri-Abeysekera alliance produced that
valuable record century partnership for the sixth wicket which erased
the previous best of 133 runs between D. Edussuriya (136) and H.
Morawaka (49 n.o) in 2004.It was a memorable experience for yours truly
who is covering his 25th Royal-Thomian cricket encounter as a sports
media personality, previously witnessing ten matches in the series as a
student of the Reid Avenue school.
Royal-Thomian series is associated with many high traditions which
are hard to match and real experience of the gentlemenís game played in
its true spirit.