By M. Shamil Amit
Two of the oldest schools in the country will battle each other in their annual big match scheduled to be played over three days at the Jaffna Central Ground.
This will be the 113th encounter in the series with the Battle of the North being the oldest big match in the Jaffna Peninsula and the third oldest in the island.
Out of the available records of 112 matches that have been played so far, St. John’s College leads the series with 35 wins opposed to the 28 by Jaffna Central College with 40 drawn matches and one being abandoned while the results of the other matches are not available.
The Centralites won the encounter last year in a one-wicket thriller, while the Johnians’ last win was in 2015, winning by 84 runs, which in fact was achieved after a lapse of 25 years.
Fourth-year coloursman Murfin Abinash will spearhead St. John’s who have enjoyed a fairly successful season this year having played 15 matches securing seven outright wins against S. de S. Jayasinghe MMV Dehiwala, Kegalu MV, St. John’s Panadura, Anuradhapura Central, Royal College Panadura, Siri Piyaratana MMV Padukka and Tissa Central Kalutara while losing to Rahula Matara and Sri Dharmaloka MV Kelaniya.
Skipper Abinash is a player with loads of experience and a fine all-rounder who has had two successful seasons while having represented the Northern Province Under 19 team and being a member of the Northern Province Under 23 team. He was adjudged the Best Batsman and the Man of the Match in the 111th encounter as well as in the limited over game. He is no doubt going to be a thorn in the flesh of the Jaffna Central side.
Abinash has in his side two experienced players in Naganthirajah Sowmiyan and Theivendram Dinoshan who have been in the thick of happenings in the batting and bowling departments so the skipper will be expecting an all-round performance from the duo.
They have three more players in the batting department in the likes of Elshan Denushan, Nageswaran Rathushan and Mahendran Hemathushan, for the Johnians to put up a challenging score.
Dinoshan and Rathushan will also spearhead the bowling with the support of spinners Abinash, Sowmiyan and Denushan.
Fifth-year coloursman Selvarasa Mathushan, an experienced campaigner will lead Jaffna Central having come into the encounter with an unbeaten record having played eight matches and securing three outright wins against Kokuvil Hindu College, St. Xavier’s College Marawila and Jaffna College Vaddukoddai.
Skipper Mathushan has been their top batsman this season and has scored a ton against Jaffna Hindu College and was adjudged the Man of the Match in last year’s encounter and will look for support in the batting department from experienced players in deputy Anatydas Jeyatharshan, the Best Batsman last year, V. Viyaskanth, S. Rajclinton and S. Nitharsan.
Their bowling will be spearheaded by right-arm pacies, skipper Mathushan and K. Iyalarasan the opening bowlers of the side, while spinners V. Viyaskanth and Jeyatharshan and pacies S. Nitharsan and M. Sansayan are expected to support them to curtail the Johnians.
The Centralite batsmen will have to do something extraordinary in both the batting and bowling departments if they are hoping to give their opponents some challenge.
The limited over match is scheduled to be played on March 16 at the St John’s ground. This will be the 17th in the series with the Johnians leading, having won nine and the Centralites seven, with one game abandoned.