Tamil Union win first-class title after 65 years
Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club have won Sri Lanka's top first-class competition for the first time since the 1950-51 season, after finishing the Super Eights with four outright wins. Their six-wicket victory against second-placed Galle Cricket Club, in the final round of four-day cricket, clinched the trophy.
Captain Suranga Lakmal was instrumental in that win, claiming 4 for 20, as Galle CC collapsed to 126 all out in the second innings. That bowling performance allowed Tamil Union back into the match, having trailed Galle CC by 152 runs in the first dig.
"We're absolutely elated with the result," Tamil Union vice president Suresh Murugaser said. "Suranga has been outstanding for us, and has really led from the front. In the last match he was bowling with a fractured finger."
Opening batsman Dhananjaya de Silva, who played two T20s for Sri Lanka last year, also played a significant hand to this victory, hitting 124 from 131 balls in the chase of 279. He has been in good form all season, scoring 868 runs at an average of 54.25, and has also been Tamil Union's leading wicket-taker, claiming 34 scalps at 14.23 with his offspin.
Other lead contributors to Tamil Union's campaign include former Sri Lanka Test batsman Tharanga Paranavitana, who was the tournament's top runscorer, with 953 runs at an average of 79.41. He had hit three centuries and five fifties in 17 innings. Legspinning allrounder Jeevan Mendis claimed 32 wickets and scored 574 runs as well.
Elsewhere in the league table, Colombo Cricket Club's left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan appears set to finish the competition's top wicket-taker for the second time in three seasons. He claimed 52 wickets at 23.19, with two five-wicket hauls, and is two wickets clear of Galle CC offspinner Suraj Randiv. Ragama Cricket Club's left-arm spinner Amila Aponso currently sits on 47 wickets, with his team's final day of play this season still ongoing.
Spinners' domination of another year of first-class cricket in Sri Lanka will not ease concerns over the quality of pitches in the domestic competition, however. Each of the 15 highest wicket-takers this season is a spinner, and among those, eight are left-arm orthodox bowlers. Only Sandakan, Mendis and Tharindu Kaushal (who took 42 wickets at 28.11) bowl wrist-spin, from among the top 15.
The Premier League tournament is the only first-class competition to be played this season, with the SLC now having scrapped plans for a provincial tournament.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando