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March 16, 2009
Upul Tharanga's maiden first-class double-century proved insufficient to carry Ruhuna to the final of the inter-provincial tournament as they went down to Basnahira South by four wickets at the Colts Cricket Club. Tharanga, whose indifferent form has shuffled in and out of the national side over the past three years, carried his bat out for 265 off 365 balls out of a total of 450. Basnahira South, however, hit back in their second innings after conceding a lead of 67 to dismiss Ruhuna for a moderate 177. That left them 254 to win, and they achieved the task quite successfully to. However, their last-ditch effort to secure a place in the final proved in vain as they fell short by four points to displace Basnahira North, who had already completed their fixtures and had a free weekend.
The match-winners for Basnahira South were Milinda Siriwardene and Chinthaka Perera. Siriwardene, a left-handed No.3 batsman, hit his maiden first-class hundred (135) and shared a third-wicket partnership of 175 with his captain Chamara Silva, who hit an attractive 86 off 147 balls. Siriwardene also picked up five wickets in the match with his slow left-arm orthodox bowling. The fast-medium bowler Perera returned career-best figures of 4 for 49 in second innings after going wicketless in the first. Basnahira South's chase was spearheaded by the wicket-keeper Charith Sylvester, who hammered 61 off 56 balls with three fours and four sixes and successfully completed by Sri Lanka's Under-19 player Lahiru Thirimanne, who banged an unbeaten 66 off 52 balls with three sixes.
Wayamba finished on top of the pile despite drawing their final qualifying-round match against defending champs Kandurata in Dambulla. The discarded Test opener Michael Vandort anchored Wayamba's first innings of 394 with a stroke-filled 123 off 152 balls, but centuries from opener Kanchana Gunawardene (121) and Nadeera Nawela (148 not out) gave Kandurata a slender eight-run lead. The pair added 234 for the third wicket after the team lost the first two wickets for 15. Nawala had to briefly retire hurt at 136 before resuming his innings. In the remaining time, Wayamba piled on quick runs to gather valuable batting points and go to the top of the table and qualify for the final. They rattled off runs at over five-and-a-half an over to finish on 364 for 7 in 64.4 overs. The game ended with the dismissal of Jeevantha Kulatunga, who stroked his way to a brilliant 102 off 91 balls, 68 of them in boundaries. Shalika Karunanayake also contributed to the run parade with a cameo innings of 41 off 38 balls.
Wayamba will play Basnahira North in the final starting March 19 at the Premadasa.
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