The 85th edition of the Josephian-Peterite annual cricket encounter will take centerstage on 1st and 2nd of March as the saints go marching in for another battle at the P. Sara Oval Grounds, Colombo.
Two of the best schools’ outfits will vie for glory as St. Peter’s College aim to continue their dominance in the ‘Battle of the Saints’ series, while St. Joseph’s College is keen to reclaim lost glory against their arch-rivals.
Blast from the past
The two prestigious catholic institutions are playing for the Rev.Fr Maurice Le Goc trophy, an encounter which began way back in 1933 with St. Joseph’s College winning the inaugural clash. Rev.Fr Maurice Le Goc was the rector of both institutions and the trophy for the ‘Big match’ is named in his honor. He first served at St. Joseph’s College and then went on to become the first rector at St. Peter’s College.
Having played 84 matches in the past, the Josephians lead the tally with 12 wins, while the Peterites have registered wins on 10 occasions. 62 games have concluded without a winner.
St. Joseph’s College last won under the leadership of Ruwantha Fernandopulle in 2008 while St. Peter’s College recorded their last win in 2016 under the leadership of Vinu Mohotty.
The highest team score recorded at the ‘Battle of the Saints’ series is by St Joseph’s, as they made 382 in 1982 under the leadership of Ken Serpanchy while the highest Peterite score came in 1938 under Percy Perera when they accumulated 345 runs.
St Peter’s were bowled out for a paltry score of 36 in 1972 and that remains as the lowest score in the series; St. Joseph’s lowest score is 56 which they recorded in 1938. The highest individual score of the series is 204 by Peterite Clive Inman (in 1954) and the best bowling figures for an inning stands at 9 for 41 by Shenal Warnakula of St. Joseph’s (in 1997).
St. Joseph’s College
The Josephians have not performed to expectations as a team this year. During the third term of 2018, most of the key players were on national duty, yet, they have managed to register 4 outright wins this season despite losing 2 games.
Ashain Daniel, one of the best off-spinners in the current schools’ circuit, will try to use all his Sri Lanka U19 experiences to bring back the Trophy to Darley Road as the Captain of St Joseph’s. Having played only 7 matches this season due to national duty, Daniel has only 24 wickets to his name, compared to the 70+ tally he managed last season.
Vice-captain, Johanne De Zilva, has had a mixed bag of a season, notching up only 560 runs at a below-par average of 26.67. But, he stands as the second highest-run getter behind Dineth Jayakody, last year’s big match hero, who has scored over 700 runs.
Last season, Shalinda Senevirathne was the third-choice left-arm spinner for the boys from Darley Road. But, this time around, he has grabbed his chances to establish himself as the leading spinner, capturing 76 wickets at an impressive average of 14.34.
The junior national representatives and the two key all-rounders for the Josephians, Lakshan Gamage and Dunith Wellalage have not performed as expected as they have not played consistently due to national duty, injuries and O/L examinations.
Players like Sheran Fonseka and Shevon Daniel, who are playing their first year, will need to step up to the occasion to help the Josephian cause.
Probable XI – Sheran Fonseka, Johanne De Zilva, Shevon Daniel, Dineth Jayakody, Dunith Wellalage, Dilesh Perera, Sachintha Mahindasinghe, Lakshan Gamage, Ashain Daniel (Captain), Ashan De Alwis, Shalinda Senevirathne
St. Peter’s College
Until last week, the Peterites were unbeaten this season, but then they fell prey to Mahinda College, Galle in their pre-quarter match of the Singer Schools Div 1 tournament. They have played good cricket in the last couple of months, notching up two outright wins.
Tall and lanky middle order batsman Ranmith Jayasena will lead the ‘Bamba’ outfit this year. The fourth-year coloursman has amassed over 700 runs with 2 centuries to his name this season and his leadership has been exemplary throughout the season.
Without the added responsibility of leading the team, ex-skipper Santhush Gunathilaka has expressed himself to the best of his abilities at number three. He has struck over 1300 runs this season with 1 double hundred, 6 centuries and 4 fifties, to record plenty of new batting records.
Apart from Gunathilaka and Jayasena, none of the other batsmen have crossed the 500-run mark. The worrying factor for the Peterites will be their middle order, which has not been tested throughout the season until recently.
The spin twins, left-arm orthodox bowler- Kanishka Maduwantha and right-arm off-break bowler Ruvin Senevirathne have taken over 100 wickets between them. They will do the bulk of the bowling and will hope the likes of left-arm seamer Tariq Saboor, Gunathilaka and Shivaan Perera do the honours with the new ball.
Probable XI – Dinith Anjula, Banuka De Silva, Santhush Gunathilaka, Ranmith Jayasena (Captain), Nipunaka Fonseka, Shivaan Perera, Shannon Fernando, Kanishka Maduwantha, Wanuja Sahan, Ruvin Senevirathne, Tariq Saboor
The Oval pitch has produced plenty of run-fests in the last few months, hence expect a high-scoring affair, with the batsmen dominating proceedings.
The first innings being restricted to 60 overs will once again spice up the match with a total of 210 overs scheduled to be bowled over the course of two days.
With two equally-balanced outfits going head-to-head, this edition of the ‘Battle of the Saints’ will surely be decided on the team committing fewer mistakes.
Watch the 85th Battle of the Saints live on ThePapare.com, Dialog Television Channel 77 and MyTV from 9.00am onwards on both days.