At the most decisive stage of the game; Kingswood needed two runs from one ball. All the spectators were on their feet; stunned into silence. The pressure of the thrilling moment was injected into the minds of the players in the middle.
The so called unpredictability of the game of cricket was experienced in real-time when the skipper of Dharmaraja College, Wenuka Galahitiyawa ran in to bowl the crucial last delivery. The dispatched ball cleared the infield and reached the fence in no time. Up went all the hands of the jubilant Kingswood crowd and composure was turned to a sense of joy and excitement within a fraction of a second. Amidst the tension, it was the fresher, Ganindu Kamburugamuwa who was confident enough to come dancing down the track and chip the ball over the packed infield to the straight boundary. The exhilarating 26th limited over encounter between the arch-rivals concluded in the favour of Kingswood, enabling them to clinch a nail-biting last ball victory over Dharmaraja College yesterday.
Earlier in the essay, Kingswood College won the toss and invited their opponents to take first lease of the wicket. The most successful batsman at the 110th encounter for Rajans, Ruchira Pupulewatte opened the batting with right handed Bawantha Udangamuwa. The part-time paceman, Janith Tennakoon provided the first break-through for Kingswood as the dangerous Pupulewatte was sent back to the pavilion when the new ball struck the timber deceiving him with late swing. Left handed Deshan Gunasinghe paired up with Bawantha and they both set a constructive partnership of 65 runs for the 2nd wicket. The ball nicked the outside edge of Bawantha’s bat and was tremendously caught behind by Dulin Wijenarayana. The score appeared 2 wickets down for 75 when the Sri Lanka under 19 representative Lahiru Samarakoon walked in to the center, in at number four. Building up a solid 50 run partnership for the 3rd wicket, the Rajans’ total was taken to a commendable position when it displayed 125 for the loss of 3 before Lahiru was caught at short third-man when he attempted to slash the ball square of the wicket. Deshan top scored for their team with a marathon 70 runs that comprised 8 boundaries. Showing the colours of perfection and accuracy once again, left arm orthodox bowler Vimukthi Wijesiriwardane provided 3 vital scalps. Getting a little contribution from the tail-enders, and a considerable advantage over some cheeky mis-fields, Dharmaraja College posted a defendable total of 212 for 9 at the completion of their 50 overs.
Coming out to bat, the Kingswood openers Meedum Weerasinghe and Upamal Heenkenda got on to a quiet start and were scoring below the required run rate. The opening partnership looked to be decent as usual for the lads from Randles Hill before Weerasinghe was caught behind off the left arm spin of Wenuka. Upamal continued his belligerent stroke-play and enabled the Kingswoodians to canter to 151 for 1 with experienced Tharindu Liyanage at the other end. Upamal had to leave the ground due to cramp that brought Dilshan Walisundara to the crease. Dilshan made a cautious 40 and was unfortunately caught at mid-off when he tried to clear him at a stage where they desperately needed somequick runs.
Upamal resumed his innings afterrecovering and went on to score 42 runs. Liyanage was handsomely stumped by Supun Withanarachchi for the same score and that caused Kingswood to struggle a bit against the tight spin bowling from both ends. Skipper Ruwantha Hathurusinghe confidently played some shots all over the park but could not continue them to build up a long innings. Dharmaraja College took the game to a nail-biting moment when they claimed the wickets of all the senior players of the Kingswood camp. Gihan Witharana captured 3 scalps whilst Wenuka pegged back the batting by claiming a couple.
Every run was undoubtedly precious for the Kingswoodians and every dot ball was equally worthwhile for the Rajans. The total appeared 211 for 8 and Kings still required two runs from the last ball. Ganidu Kamburugamuwa played the winning stroke and Kingswood cheers echoed all over the Pallekele International Stadium. The two freshers, Ganidu Kamburugamuwa and Dulin Wijenarayane were unbeaten at the end of the day. The rapturous lads from Randles hill overcame Dharmaraja College by two wickets in their 26th limited over encounter and grabbed the Winston Hoole Memorial Challenge Trophy from the grasp of their opposition. This concluded the exhilarating action of March Madness in Hill country.
Toss – Kingswood College Kandy
Dharmaraja College Kandy: 212/9 in 50 overs
Deshan Gunasinghe 70, Bawantha Udangamuwa 37, Lahiru Samarakoon 20, Asmitha Rajapaksha 18: Vimukthi Wijesiriwardhane 3/33, Janith Tennakoon 2/21, Tharindu Liyanage 1/34
Kingswood College Kandy: 215/8 in 50 overs
Upamal Heenkenda 42, Tharindu Liyanage 42, Dilshan Walisundara 40, Meedum Weerasinghe 23, Ruwantha Hathurusinghe 22: Gihan Witharana 3/36, Wenuka Galahitiyawa 2/38
Result – Kingswood College won the match by 2 wickets
Man of the Match – Tharindu Liyanage.