In what may well be argued (at least in hindsight) as a master stroke by the Thomian Think Tank, a second string Thomian XI (the Thomian Second XI team) comfortably defeated a full strength Ananda College 1st XI by 4 wickets with 4 overs and 3 balls to spare, to qualify for the Singer Under 19 Limited Overs Pre-Quarterfinal stage in this year’s competition.
Earlier this morning, the Anandians were in for their first surprise when they realized that none of the 11 Thomian 1st XI coloursmen had turned up for this all important knock-out playoff game. It soon became apparent to everyone gathered at the Big Club Grounds that the Thomian XI had been rested, in preparation for the battle of all battles, the 141st Battle of the Blues, which is due to be played in a couple of weeks time.
Although there were a few raised eyebrows around the park at Toss time about this decision, the Anandians probably believed that this would be a welcome respite, having been beaten by the full strength Thomian XI earlier in the season. Therefore, they did not hesitate to elect to bat first upon winnning the toss, most likely with the expectation of amassing a huge score.
Barely into the 10th over of the Ananda Innings, they were faced with the second surprise of the day, when the Thomian spin trio in action today started spinning a web around the Ananda batsmen.
None of the Ananda batsmen were allowed to get away at any point during the day. Apart from skipper Kanishka Ranthilakage (42) and Maoshada Fernando (35*), none of the Ananda batsmen even looked to take on the Thomian Spinners. Eventually, Ananda folded their innings with a mediocre score of 176 runs, with Shamilka Wickramatilleke taking 3 wickets (3/27) with his left arm orthodox, ably supported by the off-spinners Shehan Silva (2/33) and Anuk Palihawadana (2/43).
Enter the Thomian run chase – and the third surprise of the day for Ananda. The Thomian 2nd XI batsmen approached the chase with utmost ease; it seemed utterly nonchalant for most of the run chase. At no point in the chase did it seem as if Ananda was in control. A classy and dominant half century by Sadak Ishak (54) was well supported by Vinuja Wijebandara (27) and Romesh Mendis (25). The only occasion when Ananda appeared to have a glimmer of hope was when 3 relatively quick wickets fell in the Thomian middle order. However, this fire was quickly extinguished by the two spinning allrounders Wickremetilleke and Palihawadana, riding off the confidence earned with the ball earlier in the day. Together they saw the team home with a composed 35 run unbeaten partnership, easing any nerves in the Thomian dugout.
It will be interesting to see what kind of combination the Thomian Think tank will present for the remainder of the knockout tournament, especially as the big event draws near.
SINGER UNDER 19 DIVISION I LIMITED-OVER TOURNAMENT 2019/20 – PRE-QUARTER FINALS PLAY OFF
50-Over Match at S. Thomas’ College Ground, Mt. Lavinia (Toss: Ananda College, Colombo Won & Bat)
Ananda College, Colombo176/8 (50) Kanishka Ranthilakage 42, Maoshada Fernando 35, Kalana Wijesiri 27, Shamilka Wickramatilake 3/27, Shehan Silva 2/33, Anuk Palihawadana 2/43 vs S. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia177/6 (45.3) Mohammad Ishaq 54, Vinuja Wijebandara 27, Romesh Mendis 25, Shamilka Wickramatilleke 18, Anuk Palihawadana 15*, Janidu Jayawardane 2/29
STC WON BY 4 WICKETS & QUALIFIED TO PRE-QUARTER FINALS