Dickwella and Mendis excel at Champions Trophy | Sunday Observer

Dickwella and Mendis excel at Champions Trophy

Former Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award winners -Niroshan Dickwella (2012) and Kusal Mendis (2013) made their presence felt with three blistering innings for Sri Lanka at the ICC Champions trophy tournament which concludes in England today. Although Sri Lanka failed to qualify for the semi finals, Mendis and Dickwella come out with some explosive batting in Sri Lanka’s Group ‘B’ qualifiers. Mendis was the architect of Sri Lanka’s solitary win in the tournament. His excellent batting display of 89 off 93 balls with one six and 11 fours helped Sri Lanka humble the much fancied India by a convincing margin of seven wickets at Kennington Oval in London.

Chasing India’s commanding target of 322 runs in 50 overs, Sri Lanka began their run chase on an inauspicious note, losing the first wicket with just 11 runs on the board in the fifth over. But Mendis who walked in as one drop batsman to join opener Danushka Gunathilaka, shared a match-winning second wicket partnership of 159 runs in 23.1 overs to turn the game in Lanka’s favour.

The duo showed no mercy to the Indian bowlers who were punished to all corners of the Kennington Oval. Mendis’ power-packed knock earned him the man of the match award too.

Good form

The former Cambrian schoolboy cricketer who was adjudged the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2013, has shown good form with the willow even before he had stepped into the national team. As a safe wicketkeeper and dependable right-hand bat, Mendis won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title four years ago. He also captained Sri Lanka at the Youth World Cup.

Mendis made his Sri Lanka debut with a quick-fire half century – scoring 51 off 59 balls with eight boundaries in Sri Lanka’s first ODI against Ireland in Dublin on June 16 last year. Since then, Mendis has figured in 28 ODIs for Sri Lanka to aggregate 972 runs at an average of 37.38. He has one century and 10 fifties to his credit with a career best knock of 102.

The other former Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award winner to excel at the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy tournament was former Trinity captain Dickwella. He had two good innings against Pakistan and South Africa in Sri Lanka’s group ‘B’ qualifiers.In Sri Lanka’s first qualifying round match against South Africa at Kennington Oval, Dickwella made a sparkling 41 off 33 balls with one six and five fours. Then in Sri Lanka’s last qualifier against Pakistan, Dickwella made an attractive 73 off 86 balls with four fours. One of the most successful Trinity captains and a dependable top order batsman, Dickwella stepped into the big league after winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title five years ago.

He earned the mega title after scoring over 1,000 runs in his last school season for the Lions. Dickwella, an attacking left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman who turns 24 on Friday (23), has been particularly impressive in limited-over cricket, ever since he scored an explosive 104 off 91 balls in the final of the Inter-Provincial One-Day Tournament in 2013.

Merely months after winning Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title, Dickwella was called to represent Sri Lanka ‘A’ in its tour of England in 2013. Since then, he has proved his class both as a top order batsman and a safe wicketkeeper. Having made his Sri Lanka debut in 2014 against India in Ranchi, Dickwella has represented Sri Lanka in 14 ODIs to aggregate 501 runs with an average of 38.53. He has scored four half centuries with a career best ODI innings of 94.

Meanwhile, the stage is set for the 39th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year mega awards ceremony to be held at Galadari Hotel on July 25. The voting for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketers of the Year title has been extended till July 16 and not June 25 as announced earlier.

The -Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketers of the Year is conducted under three divisions and the winners would be known in due course. The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest is sponsored by Sri Lanka’s national mobile service provider - SLT/ Mobitel, which has taken the four-decade-old contest towards new horizons. CEO of the SLT Mobitel Nalin Perera has extended his fullest support to uplift the standard of the contest and has been a tower of strength to the orgernisers.

Oldest show

The entry of Mobitel to provide financial support to the oldest cricket awards show in Sri Lanka has further improved the standard of the contest after its humble beginnings way back in 1978/79 when the then Royal captain Ranjan Madugalle became the first ever recipient of the winning the prestigious ‘crown’. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength to set new standards and inspiring other media organisations to organize similar contests.

Apart from the winners of the main title - the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, winners of many other awards such as the best batsman, best bowler and the best all-rounder, too have made their mark in the international arena over the years.

Sri Lanka’s flagship English newspaper – the Sunday Observer, started the event at a time when there had been no organized inter-school cricket tournaments, other than the traditional first X1 matches of the so-called leading schools.