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March 3, 2005
North Central Province 175 all out (Dharmasena 42, Chandana 37, Ruchira Perera 5 for 64) and 221 all out (M. Jayawardene 57, Dharmasena 40 not out, Perera 4 for 73, P. Silva 4-35) beat Central Province 202 all out (Paranavitana 57, H. Fernando 47, Kulasekera 6-71) and 134 all out (Sangakkara 35, Kandamby 35, Ramyakumara 4-22, Maharoof 3-31)
Mahela Jayawardene's North Central Province clinched the Provincial Tournament after a tense third day's play in Dambulla. Central Province held the initiative overnight but Kumar Dharmasena (40 not out) scrapped together invaluable runs for North Central in the morning and their bowlers then took over in the afternoon, dismissing Central Province for just 134.
North Central's lead at the start was just 138 with two wickets remaining but Dharmasena, showing all his experience, slowly eked out precious runs during a 103-ball innings that included just three boundaries. With Channaka Welegedera departing early, Nuwan Kulasekera, who had retired hurt the previous evening after being struck in the face by a Ruchira Perera bouncer, gritted it out for 15.5 overs as the last wicket realised 41 runs.
That partnership shifted the balance of the contest, leaving North Central in their strongest position of the match. Kulasekera then struck an important early blow with the new ball, bowling Nishad Paranavitana. Farveez Maharoof then nipped in with a devastating three-wicket burst that left Central Province reeling on 48 for 4 in the 14th over.
Kumar Sangakkara (35) and Thilna Kamdamby (35) dragged Central Province back into the match with a 52-run stand for the sixth wicket. At 113 for 5 it was honours even again. But Gayan Wijekoon (also known was Ramyakumara) eventually found the outside edge of Sangakkara's bat and that prompted a final dramatic collapse, the last five wickets falling for 21 runs.
At the awards ceremony afterwards Tillakaratne Dilshan, who kept wicket well and batted solidly during the tournament, was named the Player of the Series. Avishka Gunawardene was adjudged Best Batsman and Chaminda Vaas the Best Bowler.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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