Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)
Antonians break jinx after 64 years under Fazal Majeed in 1981
The St. Anthony’s 1981 outfit will be remembered for a long time by cricket fans in the country as they not only broke the 64-year-old hoodoo by beating Trinity at Asgiriya but also remain as the only Katugastota outfit to do so to-date. The Antonians were led by pocket rocket, Fazal Majeed.
The Antonians started their first term encounters in 1981 strongly against the two Kandy schools, Kingswood and Dharmaraja. They nearly won both these games but time deprived them. This gave the lads from Katugastota the much-needed confidence and a good build-up for things to come their way that season.
In their next game against Royal, they took all the major honours once again. Fazal, who was famous for his bold decisions and sporty declarations where many captains of today will not do, set Royal an interesting challenge. However, Royal decided to play safe for a draw. The Antonians only win for the season came against St. Sylvester’s. Honours were equally shared in the matches against St. Benedicts and Nalanda respectively.
The next encounter against the Joes, who were given a torrid time by the Katugastota school at home. But the visitors managed to escape with a draw. In their next encounter Antonians managed to hold the strong Anandians to a draw. Then Antonians once again put up a very good performance against St. Sebastian’s at Moratuwa, holding the upper hand throughout the match. Going into their final game before the big match, they were soundly beaten by the Peterites in Colombo. This was shocking for many and was not the ideal preparation for the Antonians going into the Big Match.
The Antonians despite their defeat to the Peterites, were still considered the favourites coming into the Big Match. Trinity was led by Tikiri Ellepola, who also led their Rugby team that year. Trinity scored 205 and Antonians in reply continuing from their overnight score of 159 for 4, made the declaration soon after reaching the Trinity score at 215 for 7. Anura Dunuwile stroked a classy 78 for the Antonians. Austin Bartholomeusz claimed 3 wickets for the Trinitians.
Trinity taking the lease for the second time looked settled at lunch losing only 2 wickets for 57 runs. Pradeep Fernando bowled brilliantly to take the prize wickets of Suresh Perera and W. Dambawinna soon after lunch.
This put Trinity in a shell shock mode plus on the back foot. Maurice de la Zilva (34), Roshan Rajadurai (26) and Tikiri Ellepola (25) were among the runs as the Kandy School was shot out for a low 121 leaving the Antonians a target of only 111 runs for the win. Dependable, Marlon Von Haught (35), P. Gunathilake (24) and responsible skipper, Majeed with an unbeaten 28, took them to the much needed win losing only 4 wickets with 60 more minutes of play left on day two. Deputy skipper, Pradeep Fernando, who bowled beautifully with his spinners took a match bag of 11 for 103 and was the match-winner for the Antonians. Trinity lost their last 6 wickets for only 21.
This was the Antonians’ first and only win at Asgiriya, breaking a 64-year-old hoodoo. A week later they grounded Trinity when they won the second One Day encounter in the series by 86 runs where Marlon Von Haught went on to score a brilliant century at their home ground at Katugastota.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Antonian skipper Fazal Majeed said “The 1981 victory is very well documented and this Antonian team will certainly have its place in the TrinityAntonian cricket series. I am proud that I was the captain of such a lovely side.”
“Hoodoos are meant to be broken and we were the lucky side to do it. It was a huge sigh of relief for all the Antonians, that finally the Asgiriya Hoodoo, which has been haunting us for more than six decades came to an end.”
“Most of us Antonians are still disappointed that win in 1981 remains our only victory at Asgiriya in 103 encounters against Trinity. I sincerely hope and pray we don’t have to wait another 64 years to beat the ‘Lions’ in their own den.”