‘I only wanted a hundred, not 400 | Sunday Observer
Sunday Observer Star of the Week

‘I only wanted a hundred, not 400

15 March, 2020
Navod Paranavithana
Navod Paranavithana

Sri Lanka’s schoolboy run-machine stole a page from his brother’s book and wrote the latest chapter that has made him a household name by reaching a figure that can only be associated with West Indian Brian Lara

Sri Lankan youth World Cup opener and Mahinda College batsman Navod Paranavithana hit the limelight by making the first ever quadruple century (409) in the country when he achieved the epic feat in his team’s traditional cricket fixture against Dharmasoka College Ambalangoda last Tuesday.

His innings of 409 runs in 326 balls that included 39 fours and 19 sixes made him occupy the crease for nearly 502 minutes in creating this record-breaking innings that makes him the only cricketer in the country to achieve such a monumental feat.

A score of 400 is usually associated with the likes of the legendary West Indies player Brian Lara and Paranavithana has now become a household name.

Interestingly Avishka Tharindu of St Anthony’s College Wattala renewed the record for the highest individual score in school cricket a month ago by making 350 against Lumbini College. But 22 days after the record, 17 year old Paranavithana made his blistering knock of 409 in the two-day match.

Paranavithana, a left hand aggressive batsman was playing in only his sixth inter school match due to national duties.

Before the epic feat he played in only five matches with a century and two half centuries to his name and his 409 took him to an aggregate of 664 runs in eight innings.

The record-breaking stroke player Paranavithana had earlier set up a unique record by becoming the first player in school cricket history to score over 1000 runs in both Under-13 and Under-15 levels.

But he remains a modest down-to-earth player.

“It never crossed my mind to set up any new batting record. I thought a hundred would do as I had only one 100 against De Mezenod,” said an unassuming Paranavithana.

“Since I missed most of the school matches during national commitments, I just wanted a hundred before the big match against Richmond. But it happened that I got a hundred and then the 200 and 300.

“Then I thought I can crack Avishka Tharindu’s 350 and my team mates gave me the thumbs up which made me go for it and when I did, all I wanted was to seal the innings with a 400,” Paranavithana said in an interview with the Sunday Observer.

Paranavithana had a role model in his elder brother Binod until coach Lucky Arambawela persuaded him to attend Under-13 practices.

“He (Arambawela) was my first coach and I was very keen to get his advice to develop my batting skills from the junior level,” recalled the record breaker.

His father Kelum Paranavithana also played for Mahinda followed by an elder brother.

“Batting has been my hobby from childhood and as a left hand opener my favorite cricketers are Upul Tharanga and Australian opener David Warner. But I bat in my own style to make runs.

“My father (Kelum) and mother (Deepthi) have always backed me in whatever I did to play cricket and they always encourage me to lead from the front,” said Paranavithana.

Walking back to the pavilion after his 409, Paranavithana had a thought for all his coaches, Lucky Arambawela, Suneth Kudahetti, Rodney Pradeep Kumara, Dhanushka Denagama, Anil Redeegammanagedera, Yomal Sanjeewa and Sri Lanka youth coach Hashan Tillekaratne who gave him plenty of guidance during National pool practices.

He has one more year left at school and his supporters may expect bigger things to come in 2021.

“I just want to reach another level,” he said.

Paranavithana’s highest individual score puts him a cut above the rest:

* Navod Paranavithana (Mahinda College) 409 vs Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda (2020)

* Michael Vanhoff (St. Thomas’ Kotte) 356 vs Lalith Athulathmudali MV (2009)

* Avishka Tharindu (St. Anthony’s College, Wattala) 350 vs Lumbini College, Colombo (2020)

* Dhammika Vaas Gunawardena (Maris Stella College, Negombo) 310 vs St. Peter’s College, Negombo (1996)

* Indika de Saram (St. Thomas’ College, Matara) 304 vs Devananda College, Ambalangoda (1993)

* Jack Anderson (St. Anthony’s College, Kandy) 291 vs S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia (1917)