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Dunith, who once withdrew from Sri Lanka U19 team for O/L’s returns as skipper

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by Reemus Fernando  

In 2018 when the Sri Lanka Under-19 cricket team was selected for a home series against Bangladesh in October, St. Joseph’s College spinner Dunith Wellalage withdrew from the team to concentrate on the O/L examination. That was something very rare. Many are the junior cricketers who give up on education to concentrate on cricket. It was probably the first such occasion in recent times. Exactly three years after that decision, which was backed by his parents and the Darley Road College, Wellalage is returning to lead the side against Bangladesh.

When The Island carried the news of Wellalage’s withdrawal from the team in 2018 there was praise for this young cricketer from Moratuwa who had been excelling as a spinner in every junior schools cricket tournament since he was eleven years old.

He was among the key strike bowlers for St. Sebastian’s Under-13 from the time he started playing in that age category. At St. Sebastian’s, he received a well deserving place in the Under-15 team when he was still eligible to play in the Under-13 team. He is one of the very few players to have played in an Under-15 Division I team for three consecutive years, two for St. Sebastian’s and one for St. Joseph’s. In his very first year in the Under-15 team, he became the key strike bowler for St. Sebastian’s. His left-arm spin was crucial in the team reaching the Under-15 Division I tournament final in both 2015 and 2016. The Sebs ended up runners up on both occasions but Wellalage was adjudged the best bowler of the tournament on both occasions. By the time the Singer Junior Cricket Awards Ceremony for 2015 and 2016 seasons was held in 2017 he had moved to St. Joseph’s.

At St. Joseph’s Wellalage blossomed not only as a bowler but also as a reliable late order batsman who could save them on many occasions forming crucial partnerships with paceman Lakshan Gamage. One of his first major contributions with the bat for St. Joseph’s Under-19 team incidentally came in the match against his former school in 2018 January when he scored 85 runs in the Joes’ massive total of 416 in reply to Sebs’ 334 for seven declared.

In the 2017/18 season Wellalage was the Joes’ highest wicket taker with a tally of 72 wickets (after 18 matches). He had probably bowled more than any other bowler that season bowling over 400 overs of which over 80 overs were maidens. When the season concluded with St. Joseph’s winning the knockout tournament on first innings points against Trinity, Wellalage was the key strike bowler taking four wickets. The following season he played only eight matches but when the next season started, he started to excel more as a batsman than a bowler. One of his most remarkable batting performances was against Isipatana when he hammered 197 runs (in 179 balls) in a Joes’ total of 402. That season he scored over 700 runs in 15 matches and had an aggregate of over 50 wickets.

Probably the best of Wellalage, both as a batsman and a bowler was yet to be witnessed when school cricket came to a standstill in March 2020 due to Covid 19. But when the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association conducted a curtailed Under-19 Limited Overs Tournament in May this year Wellalage was playing a different role leading St. Joseph’s as captain. And the Joes went on to win the Under-19 Division I Tier ‘A’ Limited Overs Cricket title beating Royal in the final.

The selectors have picked Wellalage to lead the team on merit of his experience after being in the junior national setup since 2018. Nalandian Raveen de Silva is his deputy. Silva too has been in the setup since 2018. Incidentally, it was de Silva who filled Wellalage’s place when the latter withdrew from the team for his O/L in 2018.

Sri Lanka Under-19 team is currently in Dambulla preparing for the series against Bangladesh. The first match will be played on October 15.



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Quarter-finals from today 

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Neyara Weerawansa

Under 19 Division III Tier ‘B’ Cricket  

The quarter-finals of the Under 19 Inter Schools Division III Tier ‘B’ cricket tournament conducted by Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association will commence with the Maris Stella College, Thimbirigaskatuwa meeting Wickramabahu National School, Gampola at Wickramashila National School ground Giriulla today.

Quarter-finals line up

 

November 30:

Maris Stella, Thimbirigaskatuwa V Wickramabahu NS, Gampola at Giriulla 

December 1:

Ananda NS, Puttalam V Sri Sumangala, Kelaniya at Giriulla 

December 2:

Hindu College, Matale V St. Michael’s College, Batticalloa at Polonnaruwa 

December 3:

D.S. Senanayake, Ampara V Pannala NS at Polonnaruwa 

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Neyara to meet Anjalike in the women’s singles final  

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Aahil Kaleel

Neyara Weerawansa beat top seed Savini Jayasuriya in the semi-final to book a final berth in the women’s singles final against Anjalika Kurera in the 106th Colombo Championships at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Monday.

The semi-final, which recommenced on Monday after being interrupted by wet weather on the previous day, the British School Colombo player scored 6-1, 5-7, 10-7 to oust last year finalist Jayasuriya.

She will now encounter Anjalika Kurera in the final.

Aahil Kaleel Under 12 champion   

Meanwhile, S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia player Aahil Kaleel beat Methika Wickramasinghe to win the Under 12 boys singles title on Sunday. He scored 1-4, 4-2, 10-7 in the final after edging out Pasindu Rukunnayake (quarter-final) and Chaminda Abeysinghe (semis).

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Hayleys crowned winners of MCA premier league

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Hayleys were crowned the winners of the MCA Premier League.

Hayleys Group Recreation Club (HGRC) led by Avishka Fernando were crowned as the “League” winners of the 28th Singer-MCA Premier League which came to conclusion with a glittering awards presentation held at the MCA Legends New Wing on Thursday.

Though the tournament had a pre-mature ending, Hayleys by virtue of being unbeaten led the table of points at the point when the tournament was stopped. The MCA Tournament Committee with the consent of the rest of the three teams, decided to award the league title to Hayleys.

Hayleys, playing only their third season in the MCA Premier League, won the T20 title under Avishka Fernando in the previous season.

On their way to the title Hayleys beat HNB (by five wickets), CDB Finance (by 96 runs), John Keells (by two wickets) and HNB in their return game (by two wickets).

Avishka Fernando captained the title winning Hayleys team.

Hayleys squad included Avishka Fernando (Captain), Prabath Jayasuriya (VC), Dilruwan Perera, Kithruwan Vithanage, Chathuranga de Silva, Ron Chandraguptha, Lahiru Samarakoon, Nimesha Gunasinghe, Pasindu Thirimadura, Kavishka Anjula, Santhush Gunatillake, Kalana Perera, Vishad Randika, Navindu Fernando, Mohamed Shamaaz, Lahiru Tirimanne, Binura Fernando, Lasith Embuldeniya, Thashik Perera, Kabil Kapilraj, Lakshina Rodrigo and Sahan Nanayakkara. They were coached by Nishantha Weerasinghe with Vimukthi Deshapriya as the assistant coach. Pramoth Fernando was the manager.

Awards were given away by the Chief Guest, CEO, Singer Group Companies, Mahesh Wijewardene, Marketing Director, Singer SL, PLC, Shamil Perera and MCA Officials, President, Nalin Wickremesinghe, Senior Vice President and Chairman Tournament Committee, Mahesh de Alwis and Vice President Sirosha Gunatillake.

It was a memorable moment for Hayleys Group Chairman and CEO, Mohan Pandithage, Group Head HR, Dharshi Thalpahewa and the HGRC Officials – Jeramy Anandappa (President), Mohan Fernando (VP) and Ruchina Jayatillaka (Co Ordinator), who were present at the event.

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