All eyes will be on the 116th Battle of the Maroons in and around the hill capital as Dharmaraja will take on Kingswood for the T.B. Tennakoon Memorial Trophy on the 24th and 25th of March at the Pallekele International Stadium in Kandy.
As their rich history of 116 years records, the first big match played between the two schools dates back to the year 1893, making the Battle of the Maroons the oldest cricket big match in the central province. Rajans were captained by Sir Don Baron Jayathilake in the inaugural encounter while the Kings of Randles Hill were led by A.E. Spencer. The game was played at the Bogambara stadium, which was used as a cricketing venue in those days. But, from the early 1900s, the match was switched to Asgiriya Grounds and then moved to Pallekelle in 2010.
Since 2011, Dharmaraja has dominated the big matches, registering three consecutive wins. However, Kingswood won first innings honours in the previous two enocunters in 2016/17 and 2018.
Kingswood’s last outright win dates back to 1957 under the captaincy of Maurice Fernando which they won by a margin of 10 wickets. So far in the 115 matches played, history records 33 Dharmaraja wins, and 19 Kingswood wins with 63 matches ending up drawn.
Balancing the weights between the two sides is a tough task with regards to the season, because the Rajans play in Division I while the Kings play in Division II.
Bowling all-rounder, Thisaru Wanninayake is set to lead Dharmaraja College in the upcoming big match as they look to retain the trophy.
The Rajans have had a decent season so far, registering one outright win against Dharmapala, three losses to Trinity, St. Peter’s and St. Aloysius with 11 draws in their 15 games.
On the batting front, Pulindu Perera is their highest run- scorer, having had a terrific season as he just passed the 1000-run mark. He has made 2 hundreds and 7 fifties this season. Apart from him, Onajith De Silva is closing in on the 500-run mark while Nisala Abeyrathne has scored more than 200 runs too.
Their bowling attack is led by skipper Thisaru Wanninayake, who is in fine form, having picked up 43 wickets so far. Pulindu Perera and Nisala Abeyrathne have supported him well too as they bagged 32 and 29 wickets, respectively.
Champika Siriwardane is head coach while Amarajeewa Dissanayake is their Master in Charge (MIC) and Saliya Samarawickrama is Prefect of Games (POG).
Thisaru Wanninayake (C), Isuru Pannala (WK), Dulara Bandulasena, Pulindu Perera, Maleesha Rajakaruna, Onajith De Silva, Nisala Abeyrathne, Arosha Mahagedara, Naveen Jayaweera, Rusiru Bandara, Dakshitha Manukalpa, Kalana Herath, Tiran Wickramarathne, Kavindu Gunarathne, Tharindu Warnakulage, Hirun Hirigeeganage, Chamath Bandara, Shehan Marasinghe, Irusha Jayawardane, Dinuka Moragammana
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Amesh Rupasinghe is set to lead Kingswood as they look to register a win for the 1st time since 1957.
In the 2022/23 season, Kingswood College have played 12 matches and have two outright wins, four losses and six draws under their belts.
15-year-old Kavija Gamage is the Kings’ top run-getter, having scored more than 750 runs, including a hundred and 4 fifties, with a best of a scintillating 160 against Royal, Panadura. Apart from that, Abdul Hakeem has scored 2 fifties for Kings while Nikeshala Nanayakkara has also scored over 250 runs with one half-century.
In the bowling front, leg-spinner Kenula Pihilianga, who is in his debut U19 season, has been outstanding , having claimed 36 wickets with a match bag of 13 wickets as his best effort. Other than that, left-arm finger spinner, Sandaruwan Nawarathne has picked up 30 wickets while skipper Rupasinghe has also featured in the bowling charts with 27 scalps.
Piyal Salgadu is Kingswood’s head coach while Nalin Rathnayake and Lanka Francis are their MIC and POG, respectively.
Amesh Rupasinghe (C), Gauranga Bandara (WK), Kavija Gamage, Ravindu Tharinda, Nenuka Dissanayake, Menuka Heshan, Nadeesha Janith, Amiru Amunupura, Manjula Wijethunga, Nikeshala Nanayakkara, Adhil Sheriff, Dinuk Sandaruwan, Sanuka Kasthuri, Buddika Namakeerthi, Barana Rathnayake, Abdul Hakeem, Kenula Pihilianga, Yojith Hettiarachchi, Yosath Abeykoon, Ronald Steven
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