Unrivalled Aravinda to grace the show of shows | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Unrivalled Aravinda to grace the show of shows

4 December, 2022
Aravinda de Silva signals his match-winning century in the 1996 World Cup final against Australia
Aravinda de Silva signals his match-winning century in the 1996 World Cup final against Australia

The only batsman in the world ever to score unbeaten Test centuries in each innings of a match - former Sri Lanka captain Aravinda de Silva, will be the chief guest at the 44th Observer SLT Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year grand finale to be held at the BMICH in Colombo on December 15.

De Silva, out of 75 batsmen who had scored a century in each innings of a Test match, remains the only player to achieve that feat unbeaten in both innings.

There had been three batsmen – Indian Sunil Gaveskar and Australians Rickey Ponting and David Warner who had achieved this feat on three occasions each. Another eight batsmen, including ex-Sri Lanka captains Kumar Sangakkara and Aravinda de Silva have registered a century in each innings on two occasions each.

But out of 89 instances where centuries in each innings of a Test were recorded, De Silva’s first of the two had come with two undefeated innings.

De Silva was at his brilliant best in 1997 scoring twin Test centuries twice – 138 n.o. and 103 n.o. against Pakistan in April 1997. His other century in each innings came a few months later, cracking 146 and 120 in a Test against India in August 1997. Both those incredible feats had been registered at the SSC ground in Colombo.

Born on October 17, 1965, Pinnaduwage Aravinda de Silva has established many records but the most outstanding in limited overs cricket is the century scored by him in the 1996 World Cup final to pilot Sri Lanka to a seven wicket win over Australia in Lahore on March 17, 1996.

One of the game’s best entertainers during his era, De Silva possessed a superb technique, strong at cutting and hooking. He was an unrepentant attacker of the ball to earn a name as one of the most lucrative batsmen produced in world cricket.

He made his ODI debut on March 31, 1984, playing against New Zealand at Moratuwa. Within five months since then, he made his Test debut at Lords in the one-off Test against England.

Although he could not dish out any notable performances both on Test and ODI debut, he soon became one of the most sought after batsmen in all forms of cricket. He finally aggregated 6,361 runs in 93 Tests averaging 42.97. He had scored 20 centuries and 22 fifties. His career best knock of 267 runs was scored against New Zealand in Wellington.

Representing Sri Lanka in 308 ODIs, De Silva aggregated 9,284 runs averaging 34.90. His rich haul was packed with 11 centuries and 64 fifties. He has a career best knock of145.

Although he is better known as a top order batsman, De Silva has helped the Sri Lanka team with his part-time right-arm off break bowling to be rewarded with 29 Test and 106 ODI wickets. His career best bowling spells of 3 for 34 in Tests and 4 for 30 in ODIs speaks volumes of his part-time bowling when his team was in danger.

His record is unrivalled among Sri Lankans and his place in history secured after a match-winning century in the 1996 World Cup final. It was De Silva’s unbeaten knock of 107 which laid the foundation for a comfortable seven-wicket victory.

In the flood-lit final, Australia made 241 for 7 in 50 overs after Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga called right and opted to field first. De Silva bagged 3 for 43 before he came out with a polished century.

Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana who introduced pinch hitting in the first 15 overs during the tournament could not take that display to the final. Unfortunately, both of them departed early in the final as Sri Lanka, chasing 242 in 50 overs, were reeling at 23 for 2 wickets. But when De Silva walked in as No 4 bat to join Asanka Gurusinha, the alliance came into focus towards a Sri Lankan victory. The pair added 125 runs for the third wicket before No. 3 bat Gurusinha departed for 65 runs off 99 balls.

But De Silva, joined by skipper Ranatunga made sure that they didn’t lose any more wickets before they tasted victory with 22 balls to spare. They shared an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 97 runs as De Silva (107 not out in 124 balls with 13 fours) and Ranatunga (47 not out in just 37 balls with one six and four fours) showed no mercy to the well-knit Australian bowling attack.

De Silva, who stands five feet and 3.5 inches, was arguably the best batsman ever in the world at his height. It was a treat to watch when De Silva was in full cry.

There have been seven schoolboys who had been fortunate enough to win the prestigious title twice each. Leading the star cast is Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga.

He won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year twice but was not fortunate enough to make it in successive years – 1980 and 1982. If not being the first runner up to Rohan Buultjans of St. Peter’s, Anandian Ranatunga would have made it a hat-trick of wins.

However, all other six winners who have won twice each have made it in successive years. Nalanda’s Roshan Mahanama was the first to win the prestigious title in successive years in 1983 and 1984.

Apart from Ranatunga and Mahanama, the others to win the grand title twice were Thilan Samaraweera (Nalanda - 1994 and 1995), Lahiru Peiris (Ananda - 2004 and 2005), Bhanuka Rajapakse (Royal - 2010 and 2011), Charith Asalanka (Richmond, Galle - 2015 and 2016) and Navod Paranavithana (Mahinda, Galle – 2020 and 2021).

Most importantly, the sponsor of the show SLT Mobitel once again played an important role for the 15th consecutive year, enabling the Sunday Observer and its publisher the Lake House, to stage yet another successful show.

Group Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom and SLT Mobitel Rohan Fernando and CEO of Mobitel Chandika Vitharera have always played leading roles in making this show a resounding success.

Lake House Chairman and Managing Director Anusha Palpita too has contributed towards the success with his expertise and innovative ideas.