Inaugural Murali Harmony Cup comes to an end with action-packed finals
The inaugural Murali Harmony Cup lived up to expectations with St. Peter’s College Bambalapitiya and Sri Lanka Army Ladies claiming dramatic victories in the men’s and women’s finals at the IODR Oval in Oddusuddan on Wednesday.
Jaffna Combined Schools ensured that the tournament ended with a nail-biting finish by nearly bowling out men’s tournament favourites St. Peter’s College, after having set a relatively modest target of 90. St. Peter’s last pair fought a dramatic rearguard action to take their team to victory at 91-9 with 11 balls to spare.
Watched by a large crowd, including excited children from all the surrounding local areas and Sri Lanka spin legend Muttiah Muralidaran, Jaffna Combined Schools had St. Peter’s on the ropes at 68-9 before the last pair of Crishan Fernando and Sudeel Dissanayake blasted an unbeaten 23 for the last wicket.
T. Kokulan (2 for 14) and M. Norbert (2 for 16) were the pick of the bowlers for Jaffna Combined Schools and were responsible for a sensational collapse in St. Peter’s middle and late order to put the pressure on the Colombo school who are the reigning schools’ champions. The Jaffna schoolboys will rue several dropped catches that might have won them the match.
Earlier, Jaffna Combined struggled to score, after winning the toss and electing to bat, in the face of some disciplined pace and spin bowling aided by variable bounce in the pitch and tight fielding.
Julian de Zilva took 3 for 14, and Chemila Obesekera 2 for 9 while T. Kokulan top-scored with 25.
Julian de Zilva of St. Peter’s was the player-of-the-match for his haul of three wickets and 14 runs.
Earlier in the day at the same venue, Sri Lanka Army clinched the women’s tournament with a tense 16-run victory over Shakthi Ladies from Anuradhapura.
Army took early control of the match with a solid batting display. Player-of-the-match Roshani Perera led the way with a solid 53 and was supported by Nimali Perera who scored 32. The pair ensured Sri Lanka Army posted a competitive 127-4 in their 20 overs.
However, Shakthi Ladies, who had earlier beaten the Army in the group stages, fought bravely right until the end before falling short on 111-9.
Nimali Perera was the pick of the bowlers with 2-18 while Anurada Alahapperuma (23) and Hansima Karunaratne (22) were Shakthi’s highest run scorers.
The Murali Harmony Cup is a 20-team reconciliation tournament staged to promote community-building and friendship in post-war Sri Lanka. It was played at five grounds across Northern Sri Lanka in the towns of Jaffna, Oddusuddan, Mankulam, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya from 8-12 September. The T20 tournament featured Under-19 schoolboys and Under-23 women cricketers.
The five-day tournament was jointly organised by Muttiah Muralidaran’s charity the Foundation of Goodness, travel company Red Dot Tours, the International Cricket Council and the Sri Lanka Army.
Men’s Final - St. Peter’s v Jaffna Combined Schools
Jaffna Combined Schools 90-9 in 20 overs (T. Kokulan 25, P. Thuvaragaseelan 17, Julian de Zilva 3 for 14, Chemila Obesekera 2 for 9) v St. Peter’s College 91-9 in 18.1 overs (Julian de Zilva 14, Nimantha Peiris 13, T. Kokulan 2 for 14, M. Norbert 2 for 16).
St. Peter’s College won by 1 wicket
Women’s Final - Shakthi Ladies v Sri Lanka Army
Sri Lanka Army 127-4 in 20 overs (Roshani Perera 53, Nimali Perera 32, Hansima Karunaratne 2 for 33) v Shakthi Ladies 111-9 in 20 overs (Anurada Alahapperuma 23, Hansima Karunaratne 22, Nimali Perera 2 for 18).
Sri Lanka Army won by 16 runs