A captain’s knock that stands out

Royal College skipper Dasis Manchanayake became the 27th batsman from his school to have scored a century at the historic Battle of the Blues when he entered the record books with a knock of 137 runs on day one of the 144th Big Match against S. Thomas’ on Thursday. Moments after the skipper ended a seven-year wait for a batsman from Reid Avenue to score a century, Ramiru Perera joined the list scoring 128 runs. The duo were involved in a record-breaking fifth wicket partnership that helped them recover to post a commanding total after being four wickets down for 63 runs in the morning.

After Pasindu Sooriyabandara scored a debut century at the 2016 Big Match no Royalist had passed the three-figure mark until Thursday.

Manchanayake had played the lead role in the Royal batting lineup throughout this season. In fact, he earned the rare honour of scoring 1000 runs for the season this year. It included a double century as well. Not many Royalists have scored that many runs in the 144-year-old history of the college. He scored 1059 runs at an average of 62.20. According to Royal statisticians there had been 19 Royalists who had scored over 1000 runs for the season but only five of them had averaged over 50. Since 2000, 12 Royalist batsmen had scored over 1000 runs but only Bhanuka Rajapaksa (in 2009: 1184 runs in 15 matches at 53.81) and Sooriyabandara (in 2019: 1257 runs in 16 matches at 83.80) had averaged above 50. Of the others, R.S. Madugalle (1979: 1207 runs in 16 matches at 71.00), S. Warnakulasuriya (1981: 1308 runs in 16 matches at 76.94) and C. Amerasinghe (1983: 1329 runs in 17 matches at 73.83) stand out for their outstanding averages.

When this edition was ready for press, Manchanayake had backed his century with a half-century in the second innings and had given Royal the complete command in the match.  Not many Royalists who had scored thousand runs for the season had scored centuries in the Big Match.

C.J. Fernando in 1971 (160n.o), A. Polonnowita in 1996 (165), S. Senaratne in 2006 (104) ND Ramith Rambukwella in 2012 (127) are the only other batsman to have followed up their 1000 runs with centuries in the Big Match.

More than anything else what makes Manchanayake’s century so special is the impact it had on the match. On paper, the Thomians were the team that had the edge and when he was joined by Ramiru Perera Royal were four wickets down for 63 runs. He was positive from the word go and remained so until Royal took a firm grip of the game.



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