Premier League Tournament round-up

Sinhalese SC stay top but Colts draw closer

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

January 15, 2009

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The Colts Cricket Club batsmen came up with a record-breaking performance against Ragama CC at Braybrooke Place, to help their team close the gap with Sinhalese SC (SSC) at the top of the Premier League Tournament Tier A.

Jeevantha Kulatunga and Roshen Silva starred in a fifth-wicket partnership of 353 for Colts, to establish a new first-class record for Sri Lanka, beating the 12-year-old record of the unbeaten 317-run stand set by the SSC pair of Arjuna Ranatunga and Hemantha Wickremaratne against Sebastianites at Maitland Place. Wickremaratne was on this occasion representing Ragama CC and could only helplessly watch his record being wiped out.

Kulatunga went on to score his maiden double century in an 18-year first-class career, dominating the stand with a stroke-filled innings of 234 off 194 balls. The innings, which which included 28 fours and 12 sixes, was also the first double hundred for the current season.

His junior partner Silva supported him well with his maiden first-class century (147) as they rescued Colts from a perilous 32 for 4 to an imposing 448. In the high-scoring drawn game, the Ragama batsmen also went on a leather hunt and fell short by 49 runs of overhauling the Colts total.

Skipper Duminda Perera (135) and Sameera Soysa (104) put on 204 for the fifth wicket but could not prevent their team from surrendering a first-innings lead, which enabled Colts to move within six points of table leaders SSC with a game in hand.

Captain Tharanga Paranavitana's well-paced century ensured SSC retained their top position on the points table, as they took a 47-run first innings lead over Colombo CC at Maitland Place. CCC were saved from defeat by former under-19 World Cup cricketer Sachith Pathirana who followed his five-wicket haul in the first innings with a career-best 83 to force a draw.

Badureliya CC secured their second win of the season in nine matches when they beat Army SC by four wickets at the Premadasa to keep their hopes of staying up in Tier A alive. In a low-scoring game, Badureliya were seen home by 33-year-old Rasika Priyadarshana who scored a valuable 66 to help his team reach the moderate target of 135 after they had fumbled at the start of their run-chase, losing three wickets for 11. Former Sri Lanka left-arm spinner Niroshan Bandaratillake led from the front for Badureliya, capturing ten wickets in the match. Badureliya's victory left winless Nondescripts CC and Army to fight it out to avoid relegation to Tier B at the end of the season.

Saracens SC took first-innings points in a crucial Tier B game against Panadura SC in a top-of-the-table clash at Panadura. After dismissing the hosts for 184 in the first innings, Saracens piled on the runs and picked up important batting bonus points as they declared on 437 for 6. Kasun Bodisha struck a fluent 179 and Chamara Soysa an unbeaten 121 in Saracens' final game of the season.

Saracens hold a 15.89 point lead and must await the outcome of Panadura's final league match against Sebastianites to know the outcome of their fate. The Tier B winner will be making the step up to Tier A the following season.

In the other matches that will not have any great bearing on the Tier B championship, Burgher RC beat Lankan Cricket Club at the Burgher Recreation Club, Seeduwa Raddoluwa thrashed Police Sports Club at the Police Park Ground, while Singha SC defeated Air Force Sports Club at the Colombo Cricket Club Ground.

Player of the Week - Jeevantha Kulatunga

Jeevantha Kulatunga is a batsman who wants to dominate the bowling from the time he takes guard. Circumstances have on occasions made him circumspect before he unleashed his full repertoire of strokes and as on most occasions Kulatunga finished on top of the pile. For the past 18 years the exciting right-hander has been a dominant force in domestic cricket for Colombo Colts, even though, for the majority of his 7,000 first-class runs he had to sacrifice his wicket going for big shots because he ran short of partners.

"I was very unfortunate that for the first ten years of my career with Colts I could not bat any higher than six or seven because of the batting depth the club possessed," said Kulatunga. That proved to be a big disadvantage to Kulatunga, who was capable of putting up big scores at a healthy rate, but was deprived of the opportunity because of his batting position.

He missed out on several golden opportunities of making an impression and getting selected to the national team. At the age of 25, he was in the 30-member squad for the 1999 World Cup, but the next opportunity for national recognition did not come until he was 34 when he was picked for the T20 Canada in October last year. He was also picked to play for Sri Lanka in the Hong Kong Sixes. At his age Kulatunga, who is also captain-cum-coach of Burnley in the Lancashire League, says he is supremely fit and has two to three years of cricket ahead of him.

"Getting that double hundred was very satisfying. It proved that I could bat for long periods and still dominate the bowling," said Kulatunga. His hopes of making it to Sri Lanka's Twenty20 World Cup squad will no doubt have been strengthened now.

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