The U19 cricket season has just entered into its final quarter. Mahanama College, with close to 50 years of rich cricketing history, has been a silent figure in the schools’ arena of late.

Their latest product in the national scene, Dhanushka Gunthilake, has showed his class with the bat in the recently concluded New Zealand tour.

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Last year they suffered a shameful end to their season, when a tense situation arose as a result of a pitch invasion at their traditional limited overs match against DS Senanayake. This year, the boys are on a quest to regain lost pride and win back the Aravinda De Silva Challenge trophy.

Season so far

This young team under the captaincy of 4th year colorsman Thanula Sandesh has been inconsistent right throughout the season. As a result, they have been stuck at the bottom half of group B. Having played 7 out of their 8 league matches so far, they have only managed to achieve one outright victory and one 1st innings victory. Their sole victory in the season came against Maristella College Negombo, which they won by an innings and 7 runs. They also managed to get first innings points against Prince of Wales. Apart from the league tournament, they managed to win a limited overs encounter against Lumbini College.

The reason for their current position in Group B, is their three big losses this season. They were completely outplayed in their matches against Thurstan College and table toppers St. Joseph’s College; losing both by an innings. Their match against Zahira College was a close battle, but Zahira managed to steal victory in the end. The most recent result was also not in their favor as they were beaten on first innings by Mahinda College, Galle.

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Players to look out for

Looking at the top performers this season for Mahanama, there are a few names to mention. In the batting department, 2nd year Colorsman Malindu Maduranga is the highest run scorer with close to 500 runs while right hander Niduka Welikala is closing in on the 400 run mark; his best being 166 against Zahira College. Niduka is also the 2nd highest wicket taker for the team this season with 28 wickets, bowling his right arm seamers. Skipper Thanula Sandesh has also been successful in both departments, having scored 350 runs with the bat while picking up 12 wickets so far. The star with the ball for the boys in Gold, White and Black has been Chinaman Kanishka Gimhan. With best figures of 8 for 79 against the strong Isipathana College team, he has taken more than 30 wickets so far this season. He is also the only bowler to take a five wicket haul this season for Mahanama College.

People behind the scenes

We cannot forget or ignore the effort of the coaching staff and the responsibility they carry in getting the most out of these young boys. Prasanna Dissanayake, in his second year as head coach, is determined to end this season on a high. After coaching Moratuwa Vidyala for over a decade, he took over Mahanama last season. His second in command is Kalum Gangodavila, who is in his 3rd year as Assistant Coach. He is also involved with CCC and St Anthony’s College Wattala, which makes him a valuable asset to Mahanama College.

Final say

Their hopes of going forward in this season’s competition are already lost but they will be determined to regain their lost pride after last year’s horrible end to the season. Mahanama will have to put up a big fight against Kavindu Bandara and his boys if they are to overcome traditional rivals DS Senanayake. They certainly have the potential and this year’s Battle of the Golds promises to be a close one.