Even though Dharmaraja’s performance this season has been a bit up and down, coming into the 108th Big Match at the Asigiriya Stadium, they are clearly the side with the greater chance of victory.
The wins against two minnows can be discounted. However, beating D. S. Senanayake in Colombo was a good achievement. That DS beat them in the 50 over game a few day’s back is a different matter.
Dharmaraja lost to Dharmasoka and Dharmapala on the first innings, but have seven first innings wins.
The Rajans, led by all rounder Deneth Lanka have plenty of talented players. A century against St. Sylvester’s and 7-118 against Royal are his best performances. The wickets he has captured are quite considerable.
Vice Captain Ramesh Ranasinghe made a hundred against DS and his form in the recent limited overs games has been impressive. In addition, he also carries out his duties behind the stumps well.
Thanusha Weragoda (top score 74, plus two other fifties) has in a sense underperformed. A vital part of the team, he lendds support to the attack with his off breaks.
Chandimal Silva, whose highest is 89 against Vidyartha, is another free scoring batsman. Kavinda Ratnayake, Sapumal Tennekoon, Deeshan Gunasinghe and Jayapadura Tennnekoon can all make significant contributions. Sapumal’s innings against the Antonians in difficult circumstances was very good.
Left hander Kavisha Dissanaike has had a fair season. Together with Ranasinghe, they have provided some decent starts. The Rajans will be hoping for another solid platform, so that their long batting line up can capitalise.
Rajitha Lahini opens the attack, but has not made much of an impression. The Rajan attack is mostly about left arm spinner Venaka Galahitiyawa (Match figures of 13-92 vs Maliyadewa), several five wicket hauls. A team man, he has come to the rescue of the team of many occasions.
The attack is very off spin based, with Lanka, Waragoda, the Tennekoons and Ruchira Pupulewatte all turning it into the batsmen.
Supu Bandara, the Kingwood skipper, will be remembered by the opponents for a fighting 50 scored in the limited overs game in 2012. He has not made big scores, but has entered the thirties consistently.
The man to watch out is all rounder Tharindu Liyanage. A 97 against Maliyadeva and another knock of 82 attest to his quality. His bowing seems to have fallen off, but on a good day his off spin can be quite effective.
Prabath Jayawickrema, in the three forties and a few thirties has been a consistent performer in the middle order.
Probably, the leading batsman in the team is left hander Meedum Weerasinghe. A small made player, he can bat for long hours and pulls very well.
Kingswood has a battery of medium pacies. Dilshan Edirisinghe, Champika Aluvihare, Lakmal Monarawila and Jayawickreme. Both Aluvihare and Monarawila have taken five wicket bags.
One fancies that left arm spinner Chamara Bandara (best of 5-30), will have a heavy work load. He bowled well against the Rajans last season, too. For support in the spin department, he will have Daminda Weerakoon, an off spinner who can also help with the bat.
This is Kandy’s oldest big match (108th) and the Rajans have won 34 to Kingswood’s 19. The boys from Lake View won two years back. The Randles Hill cricketers have to go back to 1958, for their last win in the series.
This bag match will be the last one for Sunil Herath, who has rendered long and dedicated service to Kingswood as the Master-in-Charge.
Dharmaraja – Dineth Lanka (Capt), Ramesh Ranasinghe, Thanusha Weragoda,Chandimal de Silva, Kavinda Ratnayake, Venaka Galhitiyawa, Deeshan Gunasinghe, Kavishka Dissanaike, Rajitha Lahiru, Sapumal Tennekoon, Jayapadma Tennekoon, Ruchira Pupulewatte, Sachith weerasekera,Nivantha Herath, Dimuth Liyanarachchi and Nipuna Herath.
Coach: Senaka Dissanaike
MiC: Majule Udagedera
Kingswood – Sapun Bandara (Capt), Prabath Jayawickrema, Thamindu Liyanage, Chamera Bandara, Champika Aluwihare,Lamal Monarawila, Menaka Lankatilleke, Dilshan Edirisinghe, Daminda Weerakoon, Meeum Weerasinghe, Ruwantha Hathurusinghe, Dilshan Walisundera, Rachitra Athauda, Gihan Herath, Avishka Chandrasiri and Shanuka Ratnauake.
Coach – Rohan Perera
Master-in-Charge – Sunil Herath.