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February 5, 2009
Colombo Colts CC won the 2008-09 Premier League Tournament Tier A title, claiming first-innings points in a drawn match against Badureliya CC at Havelock Park. It was enough for Colts to replace Sinhalese SC as champions.
Colts went into this game needing three points to win the crown and they did it in style with a tremendous batting performance on the opening day when they rattled off 426 runs off 88.4 overs. They were led from the front by Sri Lanka Test opener Malinda Warnapura, who missed out on twin tons in the match. He was dismissed for 95 in the first innings but made up by scoring an unbeaten 100 in the second. Jeevantha Kulatunga who led Colts during Warnapura's absence and Thisara Perera also contributed half-centuries in the first innings.
Badureliya resisted stoutly, causing concern in the Colts camp before they were dismissed for 347, conceding a lead of 79. Colts coach Romesh Kaluwitharana put down the championship victory to motivation and team work. "The team's success was due to sheer commitment and hard work. The amount of talent and potential combined with great team work helped us overcome the challengers during the season.
"We never depended on individual brilliance but always rallied around team work with significant contributions coming from the entire side," said Kaluwitharana, under whose captaincy Colts last won the Premier title in 2004-05.
He also paid tribute to seasoned campaigner Chaminda Vaas for his contribution to the Colts' success. The Sri Lankan fast bowler wasn't able to play much but offered useful advice at vital stages. It is Colts' fourth Premier trophy title since 1998-99.
Ragama CC ended the season in a flourish, beating Nondescripts CC by 149 runs to secure third place, the highest position they have achieved in the Premier Tier A league. They staged a grand fightback after conceding a three-run first-innings lead at the Nondescripts Cricket Club Ground. Their first innings was rocked by fast bowler Akalanka Ganegama, who picked up five wickets to send Ragama crashing to 155. However they hit back to bowl NCC out for 158 with Kaushalya Weeraratne picking up four wickets. In the second innings, Ragama put up a better batting performance declaring at 346 for 9 thanks to a century by Indika de Saram. NCC crumbled under pressure in the second innings; they were dismissed for 194 with spinners Ruwan Dilruk and Malinga Bandara taking seven wickets between them.
Bloomfield also ended the season on a winning note, defeating Army SC by 130 runs in a low-scoring game at Panagoda. The most impressive performance came from the Army legspinner Seekkuge Prasanna, who picked up 12 wickets - his first ten-for in a match, including career-best figures of 8 for 59 in the second innings.
Cricketer of the Week - Seekkuge Prasanna
Ajantha Mendis' success as a bowler in the Army, which eventually found him a place in the national team was partly due to his partner at the other end, Seekkuge Prasanna whose legspinners proved an ideal foil.
Mendis's unorthodoxy coupled with Prasanna's guile and turn won Army the Premier Tier B title last season, earning them promotion to Tier A for 2008-09. With Mendis away on national duty, the responsibility fell on Prasanna. He played a lone hand but by the end of the season, Army again face relegation to Tier B having finished at the bottom of Tier A. But for 23-year-old Prasanna the season has been one of personal triumph. His match figures of 12 for 95 in the final match of the season against Bloomfield took him to the top of the pile as the season's leading wicket-taker with 65 wickets (avg. 19.76) from 10 matches, nine more than Colts left-arm spinner Sajeewa Weerakoon. The Army's coach Major General VR Silva thinks Prasanna has the potential to become an opening batsman and a very good legspinner.
"Prasanna has all the shots in the book and the right temperament. His bowling is like that of Shane Warne and he is very deceptive," Silva said. When India toured Sri Lanka last year, Prasanna dismissed Sachin Tendulkar for 69 in the three-day warm-up game; he treasures this scalp the most among his 135 first-class wickets.