The 138th Battle of the Blues concluded in an anti-climax as the weather gods played spoil-sports on the penultimate session. The coveted D.S. Senanayake shield remains elusive to the ‘School by the sea’ as glory has evaded the Thomians for the 5th year running. All eyes now turn towards the limited overs version of the rivalry.

The tale at present

The 42nd edition of the Mustang trophy will unfold this weekend at the SSC. S. Thomas’ college will come into the fixture as favorites once again as the holdersfield a much-fancied outfit compared to their counterparts. On the other side of the coin the Reid Avenue lads haven’t tasted victory since the mauling during the reign of Devin Pathmanathan. Helitha and his men would certainly want to set the record straight as they look to deny a four peat for a lush Thomain outfit.

Hard hitting Thomians v Royal’s mulish bowling 

The Thomian batting was in full flight during the 138th edition of the battle of the blues. They had very little respite for a Royal bowling line up which bowled in patches. Ravindu Kodituwakku and skipper Romesh Nallaperuma displayed some scintillating stroke-play as the hard hitting Sithara Hapuhinna chipped in with some of his own. Himesh Ramanayake and co looked out of sorts as the Thomians put them to the sword.

The equation remains the same for the limited overs version of the big match. The Royalists will have to go back to the drawing board if they’re to counter the Thomian onslaught. The lads from Mt Lavinia will want to emulate their 3 day endeavours expecting to cross the line this time around.

Royal in need of heroes

Ronuka Jayawardana, Pasindu Sooriyabandara and Kavindu Madarasinghe appeared, yet faded away during the course of the 138th Battle of the blues. Their inability to construct a substantial innings haunted the Reid Avenue lads which almost surrendered the shield.

There were signs, especially during the promising partnership between Ronuka and Pasindu for the second wicket in the Royal first essay. However, Ronuka gave it away cheaply while Pasindu was caught victim for a well-crafted Thomain blueprint. Kavindu provided substance, however he was no match to the wizardry of Pavith Rathnayake.

There is no questioning the talent, simply it is the application that has raised a few eyebrows. Helitha’s generals will have to dust off the ashes and rise, to stand tall against a resilient Thomain bowling attack.

The sorcerer v the apprentice 

Pavith Rathnayake was nothing short of brilliant for the Thomians’ with ball in hand. His wily left arm orthodox was a bit too much to chew for Royalists who were rattled. He lived up to his reputation as he dismantled some of the most accomplished Royal batsmen who looked mere amateurs at the hands of the fresher. From a probable to an imminent, Pavith has elevated his threat as he’s bound to summon the demons of the SSC layout.

Ganith Sandeepa held the key for men in blue and gold. During his presence in the middle he witnessed the master at work as Pavith wreaked havoc for the Thomians’. No doubt he took a couple of leaves off his book to replicate Pavith’s heroics. Ganith threw in a few sparks, he huffed and puffed yet couldn’t bring the Thomain fort down. However, come the change of formats he will hold a level of significance in the Royal bowling line up.

Tall, fast and relentless

If the name Himesh Ramanayake was what you expected to appear under the title, then you’re up for a surprise. It’s actually his opposite number Kalana Perera that took the 138th battle of the blues by storm. His hostile pace and his ability get under the batsman’s skin turned out to be pivotal as the ace speedster capped a five-for setting the tone for the Thomians’. He will run at pace, torment the batsman at the wake of the 18th at SSC. Whether the Royalists have answers for Kalana’s questions we’re yet to know.

The crisis man

Thevindu Senarathne, a hard-hitting middle order batsman came to Royal’s rescue not once but twice during the 138th battle of the blues. He illustrated application and played for a cause which demonstrated immense maturity on young shoulders. His half century was priceless for the Royalists in securing the coveted D.S. Senanayake shield. His ability to shift from defense to attack within the space of a couple of deliveries carries a significance as his versatility will prove salient in the shortened format.

Final say

The smitten Thomians will come all guns blazing this weekend. Royal look to turn tables on their arch rivals as they once again walk in as underdogs. Undoubtedly, the Thomians will look to feast on the wounded Royalists. The Reid avenue lads have had a dismal season this time around. Yet to taste victory this term, will they have one last hurrah in the penultimate game of their season adding insult to injury for the Thomians?