Will the rampaging Thomians prevail or will the Royal fat-lady sing again?
It is fruitless to introduce the Royal-Thomian. In its rich and illustrious 138 years of history and tradition, the Battle of the Blues has provided some of the greatest cricketing moments over the decades.
The 137th edition was nothing short of a blockbuster. The game had it all, from two magnificent tons from the willows of Rashmika Opatha and a young Pasindu Sooriyabandara, to a match winning spell of fast bowling by a belligerent Himesh Ramanayake. The Royalists had the last laugh after staging a breathtaking comeback as the underdogs orchestrated the unthinkable once again reminding one and all of the allure of the Royal-Thomian.
The story a year on in
Very little has changed come the wake of the 138th edition. The Thomains with their recent momentum will wake-in as favorites for this year’s fixture over a Royal set up which has been below par considering the talent and quality on offer in their ranks. The Thomians have recorded a commanding five outright victories while the Royalist have not troubled their win column for this season.
Thomian top order v The Royal attack
Ravindu Kodituwakku leads the run scoring charts for the ‘school by the sea’, as the hard-hitting right hander is expected to lead the charge for the blue and black. Ably supported by Manthila Wijerathne, Dinura Gunawardena and skipper Romesh Nallaperuma, the Thomian batting will stand in the way of pace ace Himesh Ramanayake, Ganith Sandeepa and Romesh’s opposite number Helitha Vithanage. Starved by the lack of wickets this season, the Royalists will have to dig deep against a resolute Thomian top order.
Captain v Captain
Both Helitha and Romesh hold the key for their respective sides. Helitha’s contribution with both bat and ball will be vital for the boys from Reid Avenue as he is expected to come up with the goods in those respective departments. The leading run scorer for the Royalists who has surpassed the magical 1000 figure mark, will no doubt anchor the batting for his team.
On the other side, Mr. Reliable in the middle order Romesh, has come up with some decent yet crucial knocks for the Blue and Blacks. Stacking up an impressive tally of 646 runs at an average of 35.89, his numbers speak volumes which project his significance to the Thomian batting.
The Wizardry of Pavith
There's no math to the staggering seasonal figures of Pavith Rathnayake for the Thomians. Having scalped 94 wickets just six short of the magical century figure, Pavith has been nothing short of prolific with his crafty left arm spinners recording 8 impressive five-fors. The SSC may produce a few demons come the introduction of Pavith into the attack as he has managed to produce spin and bounce on most tracks he has weaved his magic on.
The unknown entity of Kavindu
In an average season for the Royalists, Kavindu Madarasinghe has been a shining light for the men in blue and gold. With an impressive tally in excess of 900 scalps, he will definitely be a man to keep an eye on for the Thomian batsman. No doubt Kavindu would want to emulate his teammate Pasindu in his debut big match to write his name in golden letters in the Royal history books.
Royal College XI – Pasindu Sooriyabandara, Ronuka Jayawardena, Thevinda Senarathne, Ahan Wickramasinghe, Helitha Vithanage, Kavindu Madarasinghe, Ganith Sandeepa, Himesh Ramanayake, Abhishek Perera, Manula Perera, Yuvin Herath
S. Thomas’ College XI – Ravindu Kodituwakku, Dinura Gunawardena, Ishen Perera, Sithara Hapuhinna (wk), Dulith Gunarathne, Manthila Wijerathne, Romesh Nallapperuma, Dellon Peiris , Pavith Rathnayake ,Thevin Eriyagama, Kalana Perera.
The overall tally between these two historic rivals stands at a 35-34 in favor of the Reid Avenue lads, and no doubt the Thomian’s will want to get back on level terms in this 138th edition of the spectacle.
Expect the unexpected, anticipate fireworks, the rise of new heroes, the atrocity and animosity of the big match in a celebration of a rivalry over a 100 years and cricket itself. Besides the pomp and pageantry there's a matter of bragging rights to be settled between 22 men out in the middle. All roads lead to the SSC come the 9th to the 11th of March as the biggest tussle of them all will unfold in a thriller minute ride taking center stage.
As the saying goes, may the best team win.
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