By M. SHAMIL AMIT
With the Under 19 inter-school cricket season at its tail end, the big match season gets underway with the 55th Battle of the Brothers clash between arch rivals Thurstan and Isipathana today and tomorrow at the SSC ground from 9.30 a.m onwards.
From the 54 matches that have been played so far Thurstan leads the series with five wins against four to Isipathana with the rest ending in draws and no outright result has been recorded by either side since 1999 when the Isipathanians won under the leadership of Krishantha Jayawardena.
Thurstan will try to make a match of it, as their last win came in 1992 under Mackenzie Perera and no doubt they will put in all effort to break the 25-year winless hoodoo.
Thurstan, who are the organizers this time, have with the consent of officials of Isipathana decided to make a change, as for the first time the encounter will be of 60 overs duration in the first innings.this is being introduced with the intention of aiming to produce a result.
Thurstan under the leadership of fourth year coloursman Nipun Lakshan have played 14 matches securing three outright wins against Bandaranayake MMV Gampaha, St. Thomas’ Matara and Mahanama Colombo.
Skipper Lakshan is the only centurion of the side and has scored over 350 runs. Sawan Prabash has been the top batsman of the side this season scoring over 600 runs inclusive of seven half tons and he along with Yeshan Wickramaarchchi (475), Pansilu Deshan, Nimesh Perera and Imesh Viranga will be the mainstay of the Thurstan batting.
The bowling for Thurstan will be on the shoulders of Sandaru Dias the leading wicket taker of the side who has a big responsibility on his shoulders. Sandaru will be looking forward for support from skipper Lakshan,Ayesh Harshana, Janushka Fernando and Sawan to curtail the opponents to a low score.
Isipathana led by fourth year coloursman Ayana Siriwardhana has had a lean season having played 12 matches and being able to record only one outright win against President’s College Kotte and have suffered three outright defeats to St. Aloysius’ Galle, Maris Stella and St Anthony’s Wattala.
Skipper Ayana and last year captain Sanjula Abeywickrama, the most experience player of the side, have been the backbone of Isipathana’s batting this season as they are the two centurions of the side and much will be expected from this duo to bolster the score and lay the foundation for the others.
Shamilka Wickramatileke,ashen Gunawardena and Leshan Amarasinghe the other three recognized batsmen will be expected to support two experience players for Isipathana to make a challenging score.
Isipathana’s bowling will be in the hands of the spinners spearheaded by deputy skipper Sanjula Illangatileke who is their leading wicket taker and he along with Madushika Sandaruwan, skipper Ayana, Kaliq Amath and Dinath Dissanayake an experience player who has unable make any impression this season will be the mainstay in their bowling department.
On the overall performances of the two teams the scale is in favour ot Thurstan, but the tide could change as Isipathana who has a balanced side that is capable of stealing the win.
The two sides share the records of the big match with Isipathana’s debutant Saman Nishantha holding the best individual score of 150 n.o. made in 2002 and the best bowling figures is by Thurstan’s Jayajeewa Karunaratne who took 7 for 28 in 1992 in their last win.the highest score of the series is 331 for 9 declared made by Thurstan in 2012 and the lowest of 56 by Isipathana way back in 1968.