The recently concluded ’83rd battle of the saints’ between two primary catholic institutions in Sri Lanka, St. Joseph’s College and St. Peter’s College, eventually ended in a tame draw, but it didn’t look like it when the Josephians were five down with just ten runs on the board in the tenth over of their innings early on day one.
The Peterites had gobbled up the key top order batsmen of the Josephian line up (including the scalp of Nipun Sumanasinghe-the top Josephian run getter), but what they did not realize that there was a man who promised a lot since a very young age still out there fighting it out for his alma mater. It’s fair to say the Peterites did not see this coming and not even many Josephians believed that he would be the man to rescue the Josephians out of this deep hole they dug themselves into after the quiet start he had to the year 2017. It was none other than Jehan Keeth Cion Daniel, the well-built fast bowling all-rounder that rose up to the occasion to save the day for the boys from Darley Road.
It was evident that he made up his mind that ‘attack would be the best form of defense’, and it did work very well for him as he began to counter punch the Peterite bowling. His batting was a class apart from all other Josephian batsmen who struggled to get on with it against some disciplined Peterite bowling. But an aspect that him and his team struggled with was running between the wickets, as the Josephian innings was in disarray as four of their first seven wickets were run outs while Daniel was involved in three of them.
It would not take much time for a 17 year old to lose concentration after being involved in as many as three run outs but the elegant right hander had just one goal on his mind. He battled his way through and took the fight to the Petes like a courageous warrior who would refuse to give up even at a hopeless situation.
‘He is a very focused man during games. He always wanted a corner seat while we travel for matches and would be listening to music until we reach the ground’ said the Josephian vice captain and the stumper of the side, Shewon Fonseka. He also made sure to pass on the message that Daniel has a tendency of listening to the same song over and over again. However, Daniel reached his century with a boundary and hit five other sixes lighting up the P Sara Oval during his unbeaten 124* in the first innings as he anchored the Josephian total pass the 200 run mark while next top score came from the bat of Fonseka himself who made a promising 26 off 28 balls before being run out unfortunately.
Daniel combined with Fonseka to give the Josephians a dream start with the ball when Peterites lost their first wicket with no score on the board. Peterites somehow crawled their way up to 188/8 declared and hit back strongly to have the Josephians reeling at 70/5 with plenty of time remaining in the game.
This time though, everyone expected Daniel to be the savior once again, and he did not disappoint a bit. He took his time and batted the Josephians into safety with a patient 42 before he was finally dismissed in the game with an aggregate of 166 runs.
If not for his heroic efforts, things could have gone horribly wrong for the Josephians but they managed to salvage a draw after going in as under dogs in to the 83rd battle of the saints. Daniel was awarded the best batsman and man of the match for his brilliant efforts with the bat in both Josephian innings.
He has promised so much since his early days as a school boy cricketer and has gone onto represent the Sri Lanka youth team on quite a few occasions, with the most recent being the Sri Lanka U19 tour of South Africa. He picked up five wickets in the first three games on tour but since then he did not live up to expectations as his performance faded away before he was eventually being left out of the side on a couple of occasions.
He returned from South Africa early last month to play for his alma mater once again and he seemed a man who lacked confidence and looked out of sorts more often than not. A couple of days away from the big match though, he was promoted to open in an limited over encounter against Dharmasoka and he smashed his way to 146 which did wonders to his confidence before he came up with a performance to remember for most Josephians present at the ground on the 3rd and 4th of March.
His idol has always been the present Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, and a lot of things about this youngster reminds us of his idol. From the way he bats to his seam bowling ability and add the slip catching in to it too. But he needs to make sure complacency doesn’t creep into him and to stay focused on achieving his ultimate dream of representing Sri Lanka at the highest level.