It was a clement day around Katugastota on Friday, 8th March 2019. Boys of both schools were seen at St. Anthony’s College cricket stadium gearing up themselves with their respective college uniforms and colours.
All the upper school boys from Trinity were getting ready at “Raakade grounds” (PT Rajan playground) to start the walking parade with a 100m long flag with the college colours while dancing for the papare band.
It was all set for the big game on a sunny Friday morning. At around 9.20 am the two captains, match official and the umpire went to the pitch to toss the coin. The Anthonian captain, Theekshna Gunasinghe won the toss and without any hesitation decided to bat first in a batting friendly wicket.
With the hope of another Big Match victory the Trinity captain Pubudu Bandara and the team stepped on to the ground with a huge cheer from the spectators.
But, it was not a good outing for the Trinity captain who got injured while fielding and he was out of the field in the 5th over. Kavishka Senadeera (vice-captain) took on the duties as the acting captain.
The two left-hand batsmen Chamindu Wickramasinghe and Asitha Wanninayake opened the Anthonian innings.
The two left-handers put on 88 run partnership while Asitha contributed 54 runs for the first wicket until Trinity’s go-to man in bowling Kavishka Senadeera got Asitha’s wicket in an LBW appeal in the 17th over. It was just after the schoolboys arrived at the ground after the walking parade.
Gihan Ebert stepped in as the number 3 batsmen but he couldn’t continue the momentum. He perished for 4 runs in the 23rd over giving a sitter to leg slip fielder Ruwin Peris which was bowled by Abishiek Anandakumar.
It was 2 for 105 when the Anthonian skipper walked into the crease with the hope of getting a good run and to achieve his milestone of achieving the 1000 run mark. Chamindu and Theekshana added 61 run partnership. Theekshana got out to Uvindu Wimaladarma in the 45th over when he scored 25 runs. He got within just 29 runs from this milestone.
It was 166 for 3 on the scoreboard when Thambasana Abeykoon came to bat. Meanwhile, the Antonian star continued to score runs. Chamindu bought up his dream big match hundred in his debut big match playing a flick shot in the 58th over to Kavishka Senadeera’s ball for a quick single. Trinitians showed good spirit by congratulating Chamindu for his fabulous hundred.
It was the 66th over by the time Kavishka which bought success to Trinity. Thambasana Abekoon got out for 21 runs when he was given out for leg before wicket. Chamindu started to play some big shots to increase the score quickly. He got out trying to hit the ball for a six giving an easy catch to Abishiek Anandakumar.
The scoreboard was 5 for 243. From then on Anthonians managed to score 298 runs for 8 wickets batting for 76 overs. Then the Anthonian skipper decided to declare. Inviting Trinity for a short passage of play, with the intention of taking one or two wickets.
It was not the usual duo opened for Trinity because of Pubudu Banadara’s injury. Abishiek Anandakumar took on the responsibility to open with Shane Gunatilake.
Shane Gunatilake got out playing a pull shot in the 2 over giving a comfortable catch to Gihan Ebert. which made Chanuka Sedawathe to come in as the number 3 batsmen.
At the end of the first days play Trinity scored 20 runs for the loss of 1 wicket batting for 7 overs.
Trinitians came to bat with the intention of scoring another 279 runs being in the back foot after first days play.
The two overnight batsmen managed to survive just 9 overs until the Anthonian paceman Hirunika bowled a swinging delivery to get Abishiek bowled out in the 17th over.
Trinitians were in deep trouble when it was 34 for 2 wickets when Avishka walked to bat.
The tactical Anthonian bowlers bowled 3 maiden overs after Abishiek’s wicket. Which made Avishka play a loose shot which ended up being in the keeper’s hand in the 20th over and again it was Hirunika to provide the breakthrough.
Anthonians were delighted after their immediate successes which made Trinity camp silent.
The wicketkeeper batsmen Ashan Lokuketiya walked in with a huge weight in his shoulders. Meanwhile, Chanuka played a sensible innings, protecting one end. He made 33 runs which included 6 wonderful boundaries.
Antonian bowling sensation Nimnaka bowled a spinning delivery where Chanuka had slight contact with the wood ended up in the wicket-keeping gloves of the Anthonian skipper Theekshana.
It was 4 for 54 in the 26th over when Umair Raizan stepped into the wicket. Trinitians expected him to play a match-saving innings as he did against S. Thomas’ and Royal previously in the season. There was not much to describe in his innings until the man with the golden arm for Anthonian’s Nimnaka got him out for LBW in the 35th over for 10 runs.
Ashan fell soon after 2 overs adding just 1 run more to Trinity’s total, getting bowled out to Nimnaka.
Dinitha Siriwardane got out in the next over after Ashan’s wicket giving an easy catch to Lasitha, and this time it was Kalhara to take the wicket.
Papare music and the dance moves stopped in the Trinity camp. Players and the supporting staff had hands on their faces after unexpected collapse of Trinity’s strong batting line up.
Trinity vice-captain Kavishka Senadeera must have been surprised to what was happening. He would have never expected to bat this early.
Kavishka partnered with Uvindu in the 39th over when Trinity scorecard was 7 for 77. He was also another victim of Nimnaka.
Anthonians were delighted thinking that last man Ruwin Peris is coming to bat. Suddenly, there was a huge cheer from the silent Trinity dressing room area.
The man walked in with the Lions crest in his chest with a sharp face to conquer. Anthonians were shocked as if an alien is coming to the ground. Spectators stood up from their seats to applaud this fearless man.
The two commentators Shaahid and Yousuf were praising him for his effort and his leadership quality and compared him to the great South African captain Graeme Smith who also walked in to play with a severely injured right hand to save his team.
From the outset, Pubudu looked good. The second ball he faced he hit a mighty six playing a slog swipe and followed with a 4.
Uvindu in the other end batted really well, showing the top order batsmen how to bat. After scoring a valuable 10 runs from 64 balls he departed and again it was Nimnaka to take the wicket.
The crowd applauded him for his fighting innings. Because a number 9 batsmen batting like this is really appreciable.
It was 132 when the last man Ruwin Peris walked in. Captain Pubudu now decided to change his gears. The dressing stood up when he scored 30 runs because it was his 1000 run mark milestone for him this season.
Anthonians tried everything to get him out. It took 30 overs to get him. So the Anthonians finally decided to bring back the fast bowler Kalhara. Pubudu got out trying to play a pull shot ended up in Hirunikas safe pair of hands.
Then it was Trinity all out for 173 in 72.1 overs. Anthonians were all around the ground celebrating their first innings win after 4 long years. Pubudu got hurt when he was walking back to the dressing room. Immediately after this, he was taken to the hospital.
Trinity couldn’t stop the follow on so the 2 openers stepped to bat the 2 innings. The match officials stopped the play due to an unavoidable reason, and soon after the rain interrupted the play.
Review by MKM Shaahid