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March 1, 2005
North Central Province 175 all out (K. Dharmasena 42, U. Chandana 37, Ruchira Perera 5 for 64) versus Central Province 84 for 4 (Nuwan Kulasekera 4-32)
Wickets tumbled on the opening day of the Provincial Tournament final, with Ruchira Perera first jogging the memory of the selectors with a five-wicket haul that included a hat-trick and helped Central Province bowl out North Central Province for just 175. Nuwan Kulasekera, an emerging talent, then struck back in the evening with a four-wicket spurt to leave the match evenly poised in the evening with Central Province still 91 runs adrift on 84 for 4.
North Central Province, the form team of the group stage, struggled from the start after being put into bat by Kumar Sangakkara, the Central Province captain. Priyankara Silva, a 28-year-old right-armer, chipped in with three wickets to leave North Central 83 for 6. But Upul Chandana (37 not out) and Kumar Dharmasena (42) stopped the freefall for a while with an 89-run stand before Tharanga Lakshitha bowled Dharmasena.
Perera, still trying to rebuild his career after his action was called into question during Sri Lanka's Lord's Test in May 2002, then took centre stage with a dramatic hat-trick. Farveez Maharoof was caught and bowled and then Kulasekera and Channaka Welegedera were both adjudged leg-before.
Fortunately, for North Central, Kulasekera struck back in the evening with the important wickets of Sajith Fernando (16), WMB Perera (5), Kumar Sangakkara (0) and Thilan Samaraweera (4), the in-form double centurion in the last game. Opener Nishad Paranavitana was unbeaten at the close on 27 with Hasantha Fernando on 21.
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