Kandurata and Ruhuna rule the roost
Sri Lanka and Kings XI Punjab captain Kumar Sangakkara's Kandurata team had their unbeaten record dented by Ruhuna who managed a thrilling four-run win in Galle. Despite the loss, Kandurata held on to the lead by a mere one point with both teams having a 3-1 win-loss record after four matches. Kandurata were on course to overhaul Ruhuna's modest total of 213 with 35 required off 27 balls and five wickets intact. But Sanath Jayasuriya put the pressure back on the Kandurata batsmen with three late wickets. Jeewan Mendis made a single-handed attempt to score the remaining runs but Lasith Malinga had him caught in the final over for a fighting half-century to give Ruhuna an exciting win. Ruhuna skipper Upul Tharanga had earlier missed out on a hundred by seven runs when he was dismissed for 93.
Kandurata began the tournament on a winning streak with comprehensive victories against Basnahira North, Basnahira South and Sri Lanka Cricket Combined XI. Jeewan Mendis and Chintaka Jayasinghe made half-centuries and the bowlers spearheaded by the Muttiah Muralitharan restricted Basnahira North to 201 in reply to Kandurata's 253 for 5.
Against Basnahira South, Kandurata registered the highest total of the current competition - 306 for 8 - with all-round batting contributions, the highest score coming from 73 from allrounder Kaushalya Weeraratne. Thilan Thushara and Muralitharan then strangled the Basnahira South batting, dismissing them for 209 to earn their team a win by 97 runs.
The SLC Combined XI, comprising schoolboys largely, proved no match for the vastly experienced Kandurata side and went down by eight wickets. Dilhara Fernando's pace proved too much for them as he took four wickets in a total of 190. Kandurata knocked off the runs by the 34th over with Sri Lanka Test opener Tharanga Paranavitana hitting an undefeated century.
Ruhuna began with a comfortable 191-run win over SLC Combined XI in in Galle with Jayasuriya hitting a near run-a-ball 87 and Malinga returning to form with a burst of four wickets. They continued the winning trend with a 126-run victory over Basnahira North in Galle where Tharanga scored his second successive half-century and offspinner Sachitra Senanayake captured four wickets. However, Ruhuna suffered a setback against Wayamba in Kurunegala when they were bowled out for a paltry 111 and lost by five wickets.
Star-studded Wayamba began with a loss, falling short by 18 runs to beat Basnahira South in a high scoring match in Kurunegala, but having got on track with comprehensive wins against SLC Combined XI and Ruhuna, they suffered a rare defeat when they went down by six wickets to Basnahira North. Half-centuries from Angelo Mathews and Sachitra Serasinghe saw Basnahira North top Wayamba's moderate total of 196, following the damage by Nuwan Kulasekara and Shanuka Dissanayake who shared eight wickets between them. In Wayamba's win over SLC Combined XI, Jeevantha Kulatunga hammered a 135-ball 132.
Basnahira South had mixed fortunes in the tournament starting with a win over Wayamba, followed by a loss to Kandurata and then squeezing out a thrilling one-wicket win over Basnahira North with a ball to spare. Basnahira South looked all but beaten when they lost six wickets for 129 runs in the 31st over, chasing 272. But magnificent batting by late-order batsmen Hasantha Fernando (60 not out off 67 balls) and Janaka Gunaratne (60 off 45 balls) paved the way for a sensational win. It was Fernando's resilience that saw Basnahira South through, for when the ninth wicket fell at 259, 13 were still needed off eight balls.
SLC Combined XI secured their first win of the competition when they came up with an impressive performance to beat Basnahira South by 131 runs. Rumesh Buddhika's 90-ball 94 gave SLC Combined XI their highest total of the tournament - 288. Basnahira South in the absence of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Chamara Silva folded tamely for 157, with Sri Lanka Under-19 World Cup captain Chatura Peiris capturing 3 for 49.
The final round robin of matches takes place on Tuesday with Kandurata and Ruhuna favourites for the crown.
|Sri Lanka Cricket Combined XI||4||1||3||0||0||5||-1.155||784/200.0||933/183.5|