84th “Battle of the Saints” at P. Sara Oval on March 2nd & 3rd

Posted on 01 March 2018 by admin

Friday, March 2, 2018.

 Josephian captain Jehan Daniel and Peterite skipper Santhush Gunathilake with the Rev.Fr Maurice Le Goc trophy which the two schools will play for in the 84th Battle of the Saints encounter at the P Sara Oval today

The 84th Battle of the Saints between St. Peter’s College and St. Joseph’s College will unfold with usual comradeship at P.Sara Oval today and tomorrow.

Two days of exciting cricket can be expected from these two Catholic schools, even though St. Joseph’s College has a slight edge due to their recent purple-patch leading up to the ‘Big Match’. Meanwhile St. Peter’s will try hard to turn tables on the Joes and bring a victory to the Bambalapitiya school.

The two prestigious institutions will battle it out for the Rev.Fr Maurice Le Goc trophy, which started way back in 1933 with St. Joseph’s College winning the inaugural clash. Robert Fernando led St. Joseph’s College in the first encounter while George Jayaweera led St. Peter’s College.

Rev.Fr Maurice Le Goc was the rector of both the schools and the trophy for the ‘Big’ match is named in his honour. He first served at St. Joseph’s College and then went on to become the first rector at St. Peter’s College.

Of the 83 matches played between these two great cricketing schools so far St. Joseph’s lead the tally with 12 wins while St. Peter’s have won on 10 occasions with 61 matches ending in draws.

St. Joseph’s last won the 74th Battle of the Saints under the leadership of Ruwantha Fernandopulle in 2008 and St. Peter’s won the 82nd Battle of the Saints under all rounder Vinu Mohotti’s captaincy in 2016.

The highest score in the ‘Battle of the Saints’ series is by St Joseph’s when they made 382 in 1982 under the leadership of Ken Serpanchy. The highest Peterite score was in 1938 under Percy Perera where they accumulated 345 runs.

St.Peter’s were bowled out for a paltry score of 36 in 1972 and incidentally this remains the lowest score of the series. St. Joseph’s lowest score was 56 in 1938. The highest individual score of the series is 204 by Clive Inman in 1954 and the best bowling figures for an inning is 9 for 41 by Shenal Warnakula of St Joseph’s in 1997.

St.Peters will be led by Sri Lanka under 19 cricketer cum all rounder Santhush Gunathilaka and they’ve had a mixed season recording five outright wins and three outright loses as well.

“Big match is a totally a different game to other matches. We are going into this match as the underdogs and we are hoping to play positive cricket and try our best to win the trophy again which we last won in 2016” said Gunathilaka.

Spinners Sachin Silva and Ameen Miflal have brought many strong batting lineups down to their knees as they have taken over 175 wickets between them this season. If these two bowlers show the same form St. Joseph’s will have a difficult time.

The two pillars of the Peterite batting are Shalith Fernando who tops the batting with nearly 750 runs while all rounder and left handed batsmen Ranmith Jayasena with a tally of over 700 runs.

The other top scorers are Gunathilake over 675 runs, Shannon Fernando close to 650 runs and Sulakshana Fernando nearly 500 runs. They will be expected to make their contributions to bolster the Peters scoreboard. They have got their team off to blazing starts many times this season and they will be itching to continue the trend this weekend in the most important big match as well.

Former St.Peter’s 1st XI skipper and Sri Lanka cricketer Malinda Warnapura who coaches the Peterites said, “We have won five games outright this year due to having a balanced side and we go out as underdogs with Shalith and Ranmith leading the way in the batting department. We are also lucky to have as assistant coaches Kito Fernandopulle and Shanaka Perera and a fabulous bowling coach in Crishantha Peiris. He (Peiris) has produced two wicket-taking match winners in spinners Ameen who has got over 100 wickets under his belt and Sachin 70 scalps. This is the main reason we have achieved five outright wins along with our batters this season. We will try our level best to play a good brand of cricket and since this is a big match, whoever absorbs the pressure in the end will come out on top.”

Jehan Daniel the Josephian skipper weighing his team chances said, “We are going into this game as favourites and along with all my team mates we will play positive cricket to bring the trophy back to our college which has eluded us for the past nine years.”

Revan Kelly, Lakshan Gamage and vice-captain Nipun Sumanasinghe’s success with the bat will be very vital for the Josephian’s chances of regaining the trophy. Kelly is the top run-scorer for the Darley Road boys with over 1100 runs this season while Sumanasinghe and Lakshan Gamage have scored over 700 runs. Fast-bowling all-rounder cum captain Daniel will need to shine as he has a niche for performing on ‘big’ occasions.

Meanwhile Jehan’s cousin brother Ashien Daniel together with Dunith Wellalage have been lethal throughout the season taking over 135 wickets between them.

“Both sides are very strong and have done well this season. Batting is our strength as we have a definite advantage with our batters doing really well in the ongoing school season along with our bowlers,” said veteran Sri Lanka cricketer cum Josephian coach Roger Wijesuriya. “I am trying my best to see the match ends on a good note. We will set the bench mark in this game for sure.”

With the first-innings restricted to 60 over’s per side since year 2000, both these teams will have an equal opportunity to produce a noteworthy team performance and win the game, but most of the matches at P. Sara Oval have produced high scores even though the bowlers had enjoyed the surface.

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