Chilaw Marians, NCC, SSC and Colts reach semi-finals
The Premier Limited Over Tournament Tier A semi-final line-up has been decided with Nondescripts Cricket Club and Sinhalese Sports Club qualifying from Group A and Chilaw Marians Cricket Club and Colts Cricket Club coming through from Group B. The same sides made the semi-finals of the previous season as well.
The previous final was washed out with SSC and Colts being declared joint champions. The two teams could meet again in the final this year as Colts take on NCC and SSC clash with Chilaw Marians in the semi-finals. However, the weather could be a factor as the final weekend of matches produced two no-results and four out of the remaining six games were decided on the Duckworth-Lewis rule.
The group matches produced some exciting finishes, none more than the Colts v Bloomfield game where Colts scraped through by one wicket, scoring the winning runs off the last ball. Bloomfield, dismissed for 183, fought back to reduce Colts to 148 for 8. When the ninth wicket fell at 175, the match could have gone either way. But last man Sajeewa Weerakoon used all his 16-year experience as a first-class cricketer to stick around with match-winner Chathuranga Kumara (39 not out) to steer Colts home.
Two days earlier, Bloomfield had managed to win another thriller by one wicket against Ragama. Chasing 222 for victory, they were cruising at 199 for 5 in the 36th over, but former Sri Lanka legspinner Malinga Bandara snapped up three wickets in nine balls to reduce Bloomfield to 211 for 9. It was left to the last pair of Suraj Randiv and Tyron Gamage to knock off the required 11 runs, for which they took 31 balls amid high tension.
The opening match of the tournament had two brothers battling it out as Badureliya took on Tamil Union at the P Sara Oval. Tillakaratne Sampath, younger brother of Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan scored a fighting century to help Badureliya recover from 89 for 6 to 193. But Dilshan, opening the batting, struck a run-a-ball 61 as Tamil Union won by five wickets with more than 15 overs to spare.
In Tier B, Sri Lanka Army take on Sri Lanka Ports Authority (formerly Seeduwa/Raddoluwa) while Sri Lanka Navy meet Saracens in the semi-finals. Army made the semi-finals previous season as well.
Sri Lanka Air Force, who recruited the services of former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya for their final group match, finished second from the bottom in Group B with a solitary victory. Jayasuriya scored 23 off 22 balls in his debut for Air Force against Ports Authority in a match ruined by rain.
The 42-year-old Jayasuriya, a Member of Parliament with the ruling party United People's Freedom Alliance, was given permission by Sri Lanka Cricket's tournament committee to change clubs midway through the tournament and he joined Air Force from Bloomfield. He will now represent Air Force for the rest of this season.
A board official said that a player could represent a team after only seven days of registration especially if he had been out of the country by producing a copy of his passport confirming the date of arrival in Sri Lanka. Jayasuriya was in the UAE recently as part of the Ten Sports commentary team for the series between Sri Lanka and Pakistan.