Premier League Tournament round-up January 29, 2009

Colombo Colts inch towards top spot with fifth win

Chaminda Vaas took four wickets and scored a half-century in Colombo Colts' six-wicket win © AFP

Colombo Colts CC are close to becoming Premier Tier A champions after they secured their fifth win of the season and their second successive victory inside two days when they trounced Nondescripts CC by six wickets in Colombo. The win left Colts with less than four points to score in their final game against Badureliya CC and displace defending champs Sinhalese SC from the top of the standings. SSC could only manage a draw against Tamil Union in their final match of the season after obtaining a first innings lead which left them precariously close to surrendering the title to Colts.

Colts' two-day win was made possible by Chaminda Vaas (56 and four wickets in the match), former Sri Lanka fast bowler Ruchira Perera (five-wicket match haul), left-arm spinner Sajeewa Weerakoon (match bag of eight wickets) and top order batsman Danuka Pathirana. His fluent knock of 109 off 118 balls put Colts' run-chase on track after they had started horribly, losing three wickets for 10 runs.

Sri Lanka Test batsman Thilan Samaraweera's second hundred in successive weekends helped SSC score a formidable 454 in Colombo, but Tamil Union replied boldly ending day two at 268 for 3. SSC, however, fought back through spinner Sachithra Senanayake, whose 6 for 134 undermined Sajith Fernando's splendid knock of 139. Tamil Union fell short by 68 runs in the first innings.

Ragama CC moved to third spot in the standings when they comprehensively beat Army SC - who are at the bottom of the table and look certain to be demoted to Tier B. They, along with Nondescripts CC, are the only club in Tier A without a single win for the season. A rare century from Ian Daniel and a solid knock of 75 from Hemantha Wickremaratne helped Ragama reach a first innings total of 350. Army failed with the bat, making 168 in the first innings, and capitulated to 208 in the second - in pursuit of 404 - to lose by 196 runs. Spinner Dinesh Darshanpriya routed their batting in the second innings taking five wickets.

Former Sri Lanka one-day allrounder Dilhara Lokuhettige starred for Moors SC, enabling them gain a first innings lead in their drawn match against Colombo CC at the Moors Sports Club Ground. Lokuhettige slammed 142 off 134 balls, striking five sixes and 17 fours, and followed it up with a fine performance with the ball capturing five wickets for 40 runs as CCC fell short by 72 runs in the first innings.

Offspinner Suraj Mohamed (match haul of 9 for 163) and Shanuka Dissanayake (106) played pivotal roles in Bloomfield's domination of Chilaw Marians at the Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club.

The Premier Tier B title was in abeyance with the tournament committee giving hosts Sebastianites time till February 7 to choose a suitable venue to play a crucial matchagainst Panadura SC. The outcome of the will decide the winners of Tier B and determine who will be demoted to he 2-day Sara trophy tournament next season. Pandura trail table leaders Saracens by nearly 16 points, while Sebastianites - who are at the bottom of the table - need a win to avoid relegation.

Player of the Week - Dilhara Lokuhettige

For pure entertainment there is no exciting prospect as Dilhara Lokuhettige, the Moors SC and former Sri Lanka one-day all-rounder. Lokuhettige was given an opportunity to resurrect his career when he was included in the national team for the Canada Cup Twenty20 in October last year after a three-year break. He didn't get as many chances to display his talents but he still remains in the bidding for the ICC World T20 in England later this year. He has the ability to change a course of a game with his swashbuckling batting and bustling seam bowling, and has the ability to rattle the best of batsmen on a helpful pitch. He is one of the first Sri Lankan cricketers to be labeled a Twenty20 specialist. In 2007, playing for Moors SC against NCC in a Premier League match, he raced to a double century off 172 balls which included 22 fours and 11 sixes. It remained a Sri Lankan first-class record until a fortnight ago when Jeevantha Kulatunga of Colts overhauled it.

Lokuhettige said his stint with Checkley CC in the Staffordshire League has helped his cricket immensely. "I have worked hard at my batting as I was told I lacked the ability to finish off matches. In the past two years I used to go to practice early and get someone to throw the ball at me on a cement pitch."