Malinda Warnapura takes Colts top
Premier League Tier A
The sixth weekend of matches in the Premier League Tier A saw the Warnapuras - Malinda and Madawa - grab the headlines. Malinda, the nephew of Sri Lanka's first Test captain Bandula Warnapura, led Colombo Colts CC to the top of the standings, stroking his way to his highest score of the current season - a run-a-ball 87. Madawa, Bandula Warnapura's son, who is also an opener like his father and cousin, scored his maiden first-class century for Colombo CC in a Premier League Tier B match against Sri Lanka Air Force SC.
Malinda Warnapura and his opening partner Harsha Vithana set the tone for Colts' comprehensive innings-and-192-runs victory over Ragama CC when they shared a first wicket stand of 155 after they chose to bat first. By preparing fast and bouncy tracks with grass, on the instructions of their club president K Mathivanan who is also a vice-president of Sri Lanka Cricket, Colts have benefitted greatly with batsmen and bowlers having an equal share of success. Following the inspiring opening stand, Colts went onto an impressive total of 452 with former Sri Lanka Under-19 wicket-keeper Kushal Janitha Perera going on to hit a career best 131 not out. Ragama's batting was flattened for 91 by Colts' young three-man pace attack comprising Ishan Jayaratne, Chathuranga Kumara and Chatura Peiris who picked up nine wickets among them. "These bowlers have been encouraged greatly by Chaminda Vaas [the former Sri Lanka medium-pacer] who's presence at practice and at matches has a strong influence on them," Colts captain Malinda Warnapura said. He is confident that his team can go and win the championship even in the absence of three senior players - Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera and Nuwan Kulasekara - who are playing for Sri Lanka in Australia.
Vaas, 38, retired from Test cricket in 2009 as the leading fast bowler for his country in Tests and ODIs. He continues to play first-class cricket whenever time permits. He has appeared for Colts in one match this season.
Ragama were done in in their second innings by the spin of Dilruwan Perera and Sajeewa Weerakoon, who took nine wickets between them.
Sinhalese SC also kept the momentum going by thrashing Badureliya SC by eight wickets with another former Sri Lanka Under-19 cricketer Bhanuka Rajapaksa scoring 200 runs in the match for once out. His stroke-filled, career-best knock of 174 off 255 balls enabled SSC to reach 348 in their first innings. Badureliya's batting floundered against the pace and spin combination of Chatupama Gunasinghe, who took his first five-wicket haul, and former Sri Lanka legspinner Kaushal Lokuarachchi who's six wickets in the second innings left SSC with only 36 to chase for victory. Rajapaksa knocked 26 of them to take his match aggregate to 200.
Third-placed Tamil Union also kept their title ambitions alive by grabbing important bonus points in their high-scoring draw against Moors SC at the P Sara Oval. Batting first, Tamil Union raced to 497 for 4 off 90 overs on the opening day. Their run-feast was led by former veteran Colts cricketer Jeevantha Kulatunga, who's 148 off 137 balls virtually took the game away from Moors. Former Sri Lanka Under-19 captain Ashan Priyanjan's 86 and skipper Sachitra Serasinghe's career-best score of 152 off 157 balls enabled Tamil Union to rattle up an imposing 519 for 6 declared. Moors responded magnificently mounting their challenge on an opening partnership of 141 between Kanchana Gunawardene (93) and Kasun Bodhisha (65). Moors kept the chase for first-innings points alive with 107 from captain Bathiya Perera, and half-centuries from Isham Ghouse and Hasantha Fernando. At 440-5 it was anybody's game, Moors had to score 80 runs and Tamil Union needed five wickets. It was here that Sri Lanka fast bowler Isuru Udana's experience counted. His double-strike in the 91st over and his dismissal of Fernando in the 95th turned the match in favour of Tamil Union, who eventually managed to grab a narrow 27-run lead. Tamil Union used the remaining time to grab some batting bonus points.
Chilaw Marians and defending champs Bloomfield also recorded victories to move up the standings displacing Ragama CC who dropped two places to sixth following their second defeat of the season. Chilaw Marians' first win of the season was set up by their new ball bowlers Malinda Pushpakumara and Shaminda Eranga, who made his Test debut for Sri Lanka against Australia last September. The pair accounted for a dozen wickets between them as NCC were shot out for dismal totals of 98 and 220 to lose by an innings and remain at the bottom of the table. The Marians' first-innings total of 402 for 9 declared was inspired by an unbeaten century from Harsha Cooray, who was supported by half-centuries from opener Amal Athulathmudali and skipper Mahela Udawatte.
Bloomfield's second win of the season came at the expense of Lankan CC who were outplayed from the very first day when the home team ran up a total of 411 for 9 in 89 overs. Suraj Randiv made a strong claim to be recalled to the Sri Lanka squad for next month's two-Test series against England with a match haul of 11 wickets, which included figures of 7 for 66 in the Lankan CC second innings. Bloomfield's total was built on a century opening partnership between Dilshan Munaweera (58) and Nadeera Nawala (86), and a timely century from Sri Lanka Test wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene.
Premier League Tier B
Madawa Warnapura's maiden first-class century was the only bright spot for Colombo CC as they continued their struggle to avoid relegation at the end of the season, losing first-innings points to Sri Lanka Air Force SC at Riffle Green. After being bowled out for 175 in the first innings, CCC batsmen found their touch in the second essay scoring 339 for 6 following an opening stand of 155 by Sangaran Nandalal (89) and Warnapura (108).
Sri Lanka Army SC continued their march towards the title with their fourth win in six matches this season. Sri Lanka spinner Seekkuge Prasanna was once again instrumental in Army's victory, taking seven wickets in each innings for season's-best match-figures of 14 for 181 as Police were routed by ten wickets. Asela Gunaratne scored a maiden first-class century (155 not out) to rescue Army from 100 for 5 to a commanding total of 442.
Second-placed Sri Lanka Navy SC kept their title hopes alive by trouncing Burgher RC by 157 runs while Saracens SC joined the race moving to third spot when they scraped through to a ten-run first-innings win over Kurunegala YCC in what turned out to be a high-scoring draw at the Welegedara Stadium. Kurunegala YCC's wicketkeeper-batsman Gayan Maneshan scored a century in each innings in the match.