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Teams enter biosecure bubble for 142nd Battle of the Blues

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by Reemus Fernando

Royal College and S. Thomas’ College squads for the 142nd Battle of the Blues entered bio secure bubbles yesterday, a week ahead of the Big Match as organizers plan to conduct the historic series behind closed doors due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Royal captained by former Sri Lanka Under 19 player Ahan Wickramsinghe and S. Thomas’ captained by Shalin de Mel underwent tests for the virus before entering the bubble and according to team sources all tests conducted so far have returned negative results.

The annual battle which was twice postponed due to the pandemic this year will now be played from October 28 to 30 at the SSC ground.

The Battle of the Blues, which is generally played during the second weekend of March was scheduled for May due to the Covid 19 pandemic this year. But organizers had to postpone it after four Thomian cricketers were found to be positive for Covid-19 days before the match. Later it was rescheduled for September 9-11 to be played behind closed doors at Sooriyawewa but the outbreak of the pandemic again forced them to postpone the match.

The two teams will be joined by their Sri Lanka Under-19 players who are currently on national duty just two days before the start of the match. Sri Lanka Under 19 team officials said that the players in the current Under-19 team will be released for them to engage in the club tournament a day after the series against Bangladesh concludes. That will allow S. Thomas’ deputy skipper Ryan Fernando  and Yasiru Rodrigo and Royalist Sadisha Rajapaksha to rejoin their school teams for the Big Match.

There are some Royal-Thomian fans who have witnessed the historic Battle of the Blues uninterrupted for more than fifty years. But with the match being played behind closed doors they will now have to choose other options. A member of the organizing committee said that the fans will be able to witness the match via other means as the sponsors have made arrangements to telecast the match live.

Royal College cricket statistician M.L. Fernando has witnessed every encounter of the historic Battle of the Blues series uninterrupted since 1964. But there will be an exception this year as only the players, match officials and the ground staff will be allowed inside the ground.

According to Fernando it is the first time the match will be played in October after the historic first match was played way back in 1880. “According to the statistics I have the first match of the series had been played on October 29 and 30 at Galle Face in 1880. After that this is the first match to be played in October,” Fernando said.



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Chathurya, Kiran, Anjalika reach quarter-finals  

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ITF Junior Circuit Week II Tourney  

Chathurya Nilaweera, Kiran Viravanathan and Anjalika Kurera ousted their foreign counterparts to reach the quarter-finals of the boys’ and girls’ singles of the ITF Junior Circuit week II event continued at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Wednesday.

Nilaweera outplayed number two seed Caymus Hei Tung Choi from Hong Kong 6-4, 6-0 in his second round match, while Viravanathan beat Sergiy Rafiee from Great Britain 6-4, 6-2 to secure his quarter-final place.

In the girls’ singles, National Champion Kurera was the only local player to make the quarter-finals as she beat Kazakhstan’s Marina Omarova 6-2, 6-0 in the second round match.

In the boys’ doubles, Vichinthya Nilaweera and Zaidh Zihar edged out top seeds Hayden Khoo Menon from Malaysia and Caymus Hei Tung Choi from Hong Kong. They scored 6-7, 6-1, 10-5 victory to reach the semi-finals. Chathurya and Kiran reached the semi-finals of the boys’ doubles with a 3-6, 6-4, 10-6 win over Devaharshith Neelam (USA) and Arjun Premkumar (India).

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Kusal and Asalanka star in big Colombo win

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Kusal Mendis (67) and Charith Asalanka (52) posted half-centuries as Colombo beat Dambulla by seven wickets in a National Super League one-day match at P. Sara Oval yesterday.

Dambulla were shot out for 143 inside 40 overs with Prabath Jayasuriya claiming three wickets and in reply, Colombo hardly broke a sweat winning in the 21st over.

Mendis was in superb form smashing 67 off just  44 deliveries with six fours and four sixes. After his dismissal in the 16th over, Asalanka ensured that Colombo reached the target with plenty to spare. His 52 came off 48 deliveries and contained eight fours.

Meanwhile, at SSC, Kandy chased down a 247 run target with more than ten overs to spare after an excellent batting display by Niroshan Dickwella (69), Pathum Nissanka (32) and Kamindu Mendis (57*).

Dickwella and Nissanka added 105 in just 86 deliveries for the first wicket and that set the tone for the run chase. Kamil Mishara (34) and Oshada Fernando (18) made useful contributions before Kamindu (57*) and Sahan Arachige (28*) finished things off adding an unbroken 68 runs for the fifth wicket.

Brief Scores:

Colombo beat Dambulla by seven wickets

Dambulla

143 all out in 40 overs

(Lasith Abeyratne 41, Prabath Jayasuriya 3/35, Kalana Perera 2/18, Charith Asalanka 2/19)

Colombo

144 for three in 20.4 overs

(Kusal Mendis 66, Charith Asalanka 52*)

Kandy beat Jaffna

Jaffna

247 for eight in 50 overs

(Lahiru Thirimanne 56, Janith Liyanage 41, Santhush Gunathilaka 45, Nipun Ranskia 3/41)

Kandy

248 for four in 39.4 overs

(Niroshan Dickwella 69, Kamindu Mendis 57*)

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Wellalage leads World Cup wicket tally as team meet Afghanistan

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ICC Under 19 World Cup quarter-finals 

by Reemus Fernando   

When Sri Lanka Under 19s met Afghanistan in an Under 19 Asia Cup semi-final in 2018, Dunith Wellalage played second fiddle in the spin department taking a solitary wicket in a crucial victory. Now more than three and half years later, the St. Joseph’s College spinner will be leading Sri Lanka Under 19s against the same opposition as the leading wicket-taker of the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup.

Sri Lanka Under 19s can rely on the leading wicket-taker of the ongoing Under 19 World Cup and the rest of the bowling attack when they take on an ‘unpredictable Afghanistan’ in the quarter-finals of the biennial event in Antigua today. But Wellalage said that the ‘self-confidence’ will be the key to their success.’

“Self-confidence is our key. All 15 of us are confident of our abilities. We always keep faith in our abilities and are going to do our best to accomplish something that will be good to Sri Lanka,” said Wellalage in an online interview with Sri Lankan media on Tuesday.

Wellalage currently has 13 wickets from this World Cup. That is three wickets more than that of the next highest wicket-taker Joshua Boyden of England. Boyden has ten wickets against his name.

Wellalage played key roles with his spin bowling in all three Group matches and strengthened the middle-order batting with a crucial half-century in the match against Australia when some of the top-order batsmen failed to deliver.

Team coach Avishka Gunawardena said that he was expecting one of the top-order batsmen to bat throughout the innings. Except for Sadeesha Rajapaksa, who scored a half-century in the last group match, the top-order batsmen are yet to come up with big knocks, though the likes of Shevon Daniel, Raveen de Silva and Chamindu Wickramsinghe have made 20s and 30s.

Gunawardena said that Afghanistan were an “unpredictable team’ and his charges were not taking any team lightly in this knockout stage. The team were expecting to consider combinations after inspecting ground conditions in the evening yesterday, hence it was not clear whether Pawan Pathiraja who was dropped for the last two matches would make a comeback.

Sri Lanka emerged champions in group ‘D’ beating Scotland, Australia and West Indies to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2016 and are expected to clear that hurdle to reach the semi-finals. In 2016, Sri Lanka Under 19s reached the semi-finals where they were beaten by India.

Afghanistan, who are likely to bank on spin, were the runners up to Pakistan in group ‘C’. They beat Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea to earn their quarter-final place.

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