The main focus will be on the Sri Lanka Schools XI when the Sri Lanka Cricket organized SLT Inter Provincial Twenty20 limited overs cricket tournament gets underway in Colombo today.
The Schools team captained by Ananda College skipper and wicket keeper batsman Dinesh Chandimal will take on Ruhuna Province in their opening fixture of the tournament at Braybrooke Place.
Dynamic all rounder and the captain of St. Peter’s College Angelo Perera is the vice captain and both players were members of the previous Sri Lanka Under 19 squad that participated in the ICC Youth World Cup staged in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Schools team will be further boosted with the inclusion of record breaking all rounder and captain of St. Joseph’s College team Shameera Weerasinghe who had the credit of completing the unique double of scoring one thousand runs and capturing one hundred wickets in the current inter school cricket season.
They made a fine impact in last year’s tournament too and will be looking to make a good start to their campaign. However they will be up against the star studded Ruhuna Province team led by dashing opener and veteran Sanath Jayasuriya.
The Ruhuna team will also have the services of several Sri Lanka caps Upul Tharanga, T. M. Sampath, Lasith Malinga and Indika de Saram.
Reigning champs to face tough task
Meanwhile the reigning Inter Provincial league champions Basnahira North will face a tough task when they take on Kandurata Province in another fixture of the tournament at the SSC grounds in Maitland Place today.
Basnahira North captained by Sri Lanka opening bowler Chaminda Vaas had the better of Wayamba Province in last week’s four day tournament final and will be hoping to complete a grand double.
The other key players in the Basnahira North line up are vice captain Thilina Kandamby, Angelo Mathews, Gayan Wijekoon, Muthumudalige Pushpakumara, Ian Daniel and Nuwan Kulasekera who recently reached the top in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings for bowlers in one day internationals.
Sangakkara’s power for Kandurata
The Kandurata Province team will be captained by the newly appointed Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara with spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharn as the vice captain. However they will miss the services of brilliant all rounder Sachith Pathirana who has been forced to pull out from the squad due to an injury.
His place will be taken by Suresh Perera and the other top players in the Kandurata side are Chamara Kapugedera, Dilhara Fernando, Tharanga Paranavithana, Chinthaka Jayasinghe and Thilina Thushara Mirando.
The third match of the opening day will be between Wayamba Province and Basnahira South at the SSC grounds in Maitland Place. Wayamba Province will be captained by Tillekeratne Dilshan with his Bloomfield club mate Chamara Silva as the deputy.
They will also have the services of few talented players in the form of Malintha Warnapura, Malinga Bandara, Suranga Lakmal, Hasantha Fernando, Prasanna Jayawardena and Dilruwan Perera.
Wayamba Province will be strengthened with the inclusion of mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis who will form a good spin combination together with Rangana Herath, Kaushalya Lokuarachchi and Sameera Soysa.
Wayamba Province will be captained by Jehan Mubarak with all rounder Jeewantha Kulathunga as his deputy.
They will also have the services of former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena, opener Michael van Dort and fast bowler Chanaka Welagedera. The tournament will be continued on March 26, 28, 29, 31 with the semifinals scheduled for April 4 at the SSC ground and the final to be worked off on the following day at the same venue.