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Old Lyonians

A Group of players mostly from Sri Lanka who were available due to their previous club folding up were offered by Old Lyonians to play for them in the Middlesex Championship Division 2:2. Once the structure has been set, the manager of the 2nd XI, Sadeep Abeysena, set about identifying talented members to bring them to the pool.

Slowly, a side was ready to play the first match of the season against Sheen Park which they comfortably won by 76 runs dismissing the opponents for 63 runs with Reza Syed being the chief contributor with the bat scoring 67 runs. Second match against Lohana was a closely fought affair resulting in a win by 30 runs with Ruwan Dharmapala being the chief contributor with 4 for 12 off 12 overs. Third match against Hanwell was also won by 4 wickets but the first defeat of the season came in the 4th week against Glaxo.

This defeat set about in restructuring and re-organising within the team ably done Sadeep Abeysena. His task was set a bit easier with the clearance from the previous club coming through and the regular Captain Sadish Rajaratnam was able to lead the side. Until then, the team was ably led by Shekar Kulasekaram.

With the full strength side at disposal, the Team set about in an unbeaten 7 match streak against Kensington & Chelsea ( by 6 wickets with contribution from Chanaka Chandrasekera(68) & Ruwan DHarmapala 5-43) , Turnham Green and Polytechnic ( by 10 wickets with Budhika Arachchi 5-27), Swamibapa ( by 116 runs with Shekar Kulasekaram(57) and Sumudu Wickramaarachchi 6 for 18) , Ealing Three Bridges ( by a massive 168 runs with Chanaka Chandrasekera (44) and Sumudu Wickramaarachchi 43 runs and 7-16 off 9.4 overs), West Harrow ( by 107 runs with contribution from Rajindra Hewage(51), Shamlan Kalam(48) and 6-70 by Sumudu Wickramaarachchi), Sheen Park ( by 1 wicket with an all-round team performance with Sumudu Wickramaarachchi taking 6-74 and Changa Chandrasekera(49) Shekar Kulasekaram(39), Thushyanthan Yoganathan (46), & Budhika Arachchi 40No guiding the team with a last wicket stand of 33) & Lohana ( by 108 runs with Shekar Kulasekaram(42, Thushyanthan Yoganathan 35 NO and Sumudu WIckramaarachchi again bagging 6 for 40).

The high flying Old Lyonians were brought down to earth with a rain effected defeat against Hanwell, losing by 75 runs. On a rare quiet day for Sumudu, it was the turn of Budhika Arachchi who took 6 for 52. Having tasted the second defeat of the season, the season could have gone astray but due to excellent man management skills of the Manager Sadeep Abeysena, they were able to once again concentrate and take on Glaxo in their own patch and beat them by 6 wickets with Sumudu taking 5-50 again. Kensington was easily defeated in the next match by bowling them out for 81 with the dual act Sumudu once again amongst the wickets with 6 for 44 and Budhika Arachichi taking 4-34, bowling unchanged.

Next match against Turham Green & Polytechnic, was the clash of the table toppers with the winning side taking the impetus to march towards glory. Having put into bat the side was in deep trouble at 18 for 3. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going they say, and with a proper approach, Shekar Kulasekaram (26) and Krishan Fernando (20), keeping Shamlan Kalam company, until Thushyanthan Yoganathan joined with Shamlan. The pair, counter attacked rapidly and with Thushyanthan falling for 33, brought Rajindra Hewage who with the platform set had licence to go for the kill. Shamlan nearing his century being a bit cautious, Rajindra set alight with boundaries all over the park. When Shamlan, who was a picture of concentration until then, holed out at 98, it was shattering for the team as he missed out on the century but Rajindra once again gave the momentum back with three superlative fours to end unbeaten on 66. It was classy chanceless knock by Shamlan which enabled the team to declare at 268 for 7. The shell shocked opponents were reduced to 119 all out with Budhika Arachchi taking 6 for 30 enabling to win by a huge 149 runs.

The match against Swamibapa was called off due to rain which automatically handed over the title of Champions of the division. The sights were now firmly set at achieving a different target. Having already beaten the divisional highest pints tally of 118 set by Sri Lankan Cavaliers in 2010, the next target was to overhaul the 134 points ( by North London in division 1:2 in 2012, being the all-time highest points scored by a team since the 10 points system were introduced by the League).

With this being the target, the team played neighbours Ealing Three Bridges, who batting first raced to 75 for no loss in 10overs and then were at 119 for 2. However, the Champions elect did not panic. Using tall his experience, the wily veteran Ruwan Dharmapala, who having little to do with Sumudu and Budhika knocking the daylights out of the batsmen before him, was called upon to perform a job. A job he did, knocking one batsman after another to end up with 5 for 23. With Sumudu then taking 4 other wickets, the opponents were dismissed for 139. The runs were chased off with ease in 26 overs, with the last piece in the jigsaw, Krishan Fernando finally coming good with an attractive and chanceless 84No.

Much was expected in the final week, in which a win could take the team to an imposing 151 points, an after match party was also organised with friends and families invited to come and watch the Champs at play.

The toss was won by West Harrow, who decided to bat and soon found why they were playing the champions, being reduced to 40 for 6, with Budhika Arachchi taking 3 to reach the magical 50 wickets for the season, with Ruwan Dharmapala chipping in with 2 and Sumudu 1. With the top order dismissed, the Old Lyonians took it a bit easy and asked all their part time bowlers to have a go. This resulted in every one of them including the keeper having a go and finally dismissing the opponents for 92 with Shekar Kulasekaram taking 2 and Sumudu the other 2. The batting was also a comedy of errors as the Captain switched it upside down and sent the bowlers to take strike first. Having been reduced to 35 for 5, it dawned that it was an error and immediate measures were taken to adjust the scenario and finally managed to reach the target 8 wickets down to complete 15 wins for the season.

The West Harrow Keeper, Brian McGrory, commenting stated that any Champions in this league will win an average of 10-12 matches a season but to win 15 and the match against the bottom team being washed, was an incredible feat.

"It is a massive achievement for this team, having incorporated as a team at the start of this current year, it is a proud moment not only to finish as Champions but to also end with a record wicket haul and for two bowlers ( Sumudu Wickramaarachchi and Budhika Arachchi ) to take over 50 wickets in one season. This is due to hard work and commitment shown by all players to play for each other and the many untiring effort put behind the scenes by Manager Sadeep Abeysena. We will have tough challenges next year as the opponents are now aware of our capabilities and will be prepared but, we are sure, we will come up with answers" says Srirangan Balakumar, the Co-Ordinator spokesman of the Club.

Top Performers:
Sumudu Wickramaarachchi - 206 runs and 53 wickets
Budhika Arachchi - 52 wickets
Chanaka Chandrasekera - 381 runs
Shamlan Kalam - 289 runs and 10 wickets
Shekar Kuasekaram - 284 runs
Krishan Fernando - 260 runs
Rajindra Hewage - 224 runs
Ruwan Dharmapala - 31 wickets

Front Image:  Standing from Left to Right:
Geethika Fernando, Sumudu Wickramaarachchi, Krishan Fernando, Shamlan Kalam, Chanka Chandrasekera, Sachitra Gamage, Rajindra Hewage, Budhika Arachchi, Thushyanthan Yoganathan, Pathum Kuruwita
Front Image:  Seated from Left to Right:
Srirangan Balakumar ( Co-Ordinator and Spokesman), Shekar Kulasekaram (Vice Captain), Sadish Rajaratnam (Captain), Ruwan Dharmapala & Sadeep Abeysena ( Manager)

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