Exactly a year ago, 19-year-old Lahiru Kumara was seen at the 99th Trinity-Antonian cricket match bowling his usual deliveries, baffling the batsmen with his exorbitant pace. The papare bands and the Trinity bandwagon are right behind him, cheering-on every run-up to the crease.
Little did he know that in exactly a year’s lapse, he would be playing his first test match on home soil at Galle having tasted success in the land down under.
It isn’t always that you hear about someone who made his debut to the national side at 19 and above that, it is almost an impossible task for a fast bowler to make it to the side at that age. From taking the Sri Lanka Under 19 team to victory in England, to later getting the ticket to South Africa to wear the national kit, the former Trinitian took the entire nation by storm with raw speed.
The world would know him as a fast bowler but up in the hills in Kandy, the seamer is remembered for his match-winning effort with the bat taking Trinity College 1st XI to victory two years ago.
Not many fast bowlers have played for Sri Lanka at the age of 19. For that matter….
In the year 2015 Trinity College was firing on all cylinder in the school cricket arena and dominating the league. But they were left with one big regret. That very year when Trinity confronted the Anotnians at Katugastota for their big match encounter, the rain gods did not favour the two teams as the big match was washed out by ceaseless rain.
In this Trinity’s celebratory year in cricket, everyone was rallying behind the team for the limited overs match as Trinity wanted to finish their season on a high.
To their disappointment, St. Anthony’s won the toss and were off to a run-scoring spree. Kanishka Uggalpaya scored an important century for the Antonians as they piled up a mammoth 236/6 leaving the Trinity awestruck.
Referring to this time, the 17-year old Kumara describes the confusion on their way to the dressing room at Asgiriya. “I couldn’t do much with the ball but the dressing room was intense.”
“Sayer (Captain) was their motivating the openers saying we can do this, it was a mental battle for us”
Trinity was under pressure going into bat, and it was a disaster in the first ten overs as wickets kept crumbling as Trinity were in deep trouble. When they reached 155, their key batsman Nushan Weerasinghe was dismissed.
“I never thought I would have to bat, but then when I got the call, I padded up to make way to the ground” Joining his skipper Raveen Sayer, Lahiru describes that he had some relief on the pitch with his skipper right behind him. The two of them steadied the innings adding 75 runs to the total.
With two overs to go, skipper Raveen Sayer was dismissed with Trinity needing 7 runs.
“Sayer was heartbroken. He was the one that was taking me forward.”
“Before he walked out, he looked at me. I saw the Trinity supporters in the background. They were anxious.”
With all the fans coming up to the boundary line, the game was still wide open. Trinity needed seven off the last two overs; St. Anthony’s needed 2 wickets.
The next over,
48.1 Lahiru gets the strike. Steps down the pitch and smashes the ball over the cover fielders. Four runs
48.2 Trinity need 3 more to win. Lahiru on strike. He goes over the top, this time over long off. Four runs.
As the ball touched the boundary line, the colours of red, gold and blue flooded the Asgiriya pitch together with the anxious schoolboys who were running in euphoria as the 17-year-old had done the impossible.
Lahiru scored an important 45 ball 46 to take Trinity to victory that day. He might have lost out on an important half century but won a whole lot of hearts as the jubilant fans lifted him off the ground back to the dressing room.
“It will always be an unforgettable memory for me. It was a team effort. When we needed 7, I knew I could do it and I will always cherish that valuable moment”
As he prepares himself to bowl for the first time for Sri Lanka at Galle, his wishes are still with the Lions as they prepare for the centenary game.
“I think Trinity has a good team. Shanogeeth is a great player, he has already scored 1000 runs and I think they have the potential to win the trophy back.”