Two equally-matched sides clash in Major T20 final today

Saturday, 20 March 2021 00:03 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • SSC and Army SC coached by ex-Lankan cricketers 

Sri Lanka Army SC Captain Dushan Vimukthi
SSC Coach Thilina Kandamby
Sri Lanka Army SC Coach Saman Jayantha

Two former Sri Lanka cricketers who represented the country in ODIs and are now coaches of rival teams SSC and Sri Lanka Army SC will try to outwit each other in the final of the SLC Twenty20 inter-club tournament at the SSC today, commencing at 10 a.m.

Thilina Kandamby, who represented Sri Lanka in 39 ODIs and 5 T20Is in a career spanning 10 years between 2004 and 2014, is coach of SSC; and Saman Jayantha, who played 17 ODIs in 2004 for Sri Lanka coaches the Sri Lanka Army SC. Both have expressed confidence their teams can go out and win the final.

Kandamby is of the view that the bitter experience of losing the Under-23 final to Lankan CC has made SSC a better team to face yet another final.

“Most of the boys are very young because of that I can see a lot of energy from the players. Even when we played for SSC we always match the other teams with our skills that’s what I have analysed because we have a lot of highly skilled players,” said SSC coach Kandamby.

“But we are not street-fighters. That is what happened in the Under-23 final. The Lankan CC side was like street fighters, they came to fight. After the final I told my boys that we should change our mentality. I can see that we have done that in the last four-five games because even though we lost to Police again, we lost in the last ball. We scored only 120 runs but still we fought back really hard, which is a good sign because mainly this is a young side and they have realised. On the field they are doing a fantastic job so I am very much confident,” he said.

Speaking on the strength and weaknesses of the side, Kandamby said: “As a bowling unit we have done really well, our combination is very good. We were playing with the two main fast bowlers (Himesh) Ramanayake and Kalana Perera and we gave the opportunity for one of the schoolboys Chaminda Wickramasinghe from St Anthony’s (Kandy) who played 3 games. 

“In the latter part of the tournament we decided to go with an extra spinner and basically we have Tharindu Ratnayake who can bowl with both hands. He is the most economical bowler. Jeffrey Vandersay has been bowling fabulously. Last year he had a very bad year. Now, he is in good rhythm and even Prabath Jayasuriya as well. Basically we are well covered from the bowling side.”

Speaking of the SSC batting, Kandamby stated: “Even the batting Avishka Fernando coming into the side has been a real bonus for us, he has played 2 games so far and he will play tomorrow (Saturday). With (Nipun) Dananjaya and Nuwanidu Fernando both are in good form including Krishan Sanjula. We have a little bit of experience as well with Charith Asanlanka and Sammu Ashan in the middle. It’s a good combination to have. I have the confidence that we can do well but at the end of the day in a T20 game whoever plays well on the particular day will win.”

Sizing up the opposition Kandamby said: “They also have a couple of international players in their side and recently I have seen good talent coming in especially, after the recent Army Commander’s T20 competition. In the shorter version, I think Army has a very good side.”

Saman Jayantha, who took over the coaching of the Army team in 2018, is quite confident of his team’s success in the final.

“In the past two years, we lost in the semi-finals in the T20 and one-day tournaments, but we qualified for the Premier Super Eight and finished fourth last year. That was a big achievement. If we can win this tournament, it will surpass all. I think we can do it because we have a good combination and the players are working really hard towards achieving this success,” said Jayantha.

“We have a good batting and bowling combination. We have big hitters in the side who can clear the boundary and who can rotate the strike and take singles. In the bowling we have Mahesh Theekshana doing really well, Janith Silva, Seekkuge Prasanna, Asela Gunaratne and Heshan Hettiarachchy. We have all kinds of variety – finger spin, leg spin, off spin and fast bowlers who can bowl at the death,” he continued.

“One of the main reasons for our success is commitment of the players and the other is the holding of the Army Commander’s T20 League. We had a superb tournament and that has really helped us to achieve success so far. This is the first time we had a tournament of this nature like the LPL. We gave opportunity to play two national players for each team. A lot of national players came and played in the tournament and that has helped our team to share their experience in the dressing room,” Jayantha said.

“We are covered in all areas but I want to build our players’ mindset. I am always telling them how to develop their innings, how not to take a risks, to rotate the strike, those kinds of things. The SSC are also a young side, they are really good. But we can’t underestimate the players. In T20 cricket two players can change the game.”

The winning team will receive Rs. 500,000; the Runner-Up will receive Rs. 300,000; and Player of the Final will receive Rs. 75,000. There is Rs. 100,000 each for the Best Batsman, Best Bowler and Man of the Tournament based on overall performances in the tournament. (ST)