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March 25, 2009
In-form batsman Angelo Mathews and allrounder Muthumudalige Pushpakumara fashioned a comprehensive three-day victory for Basnahira North in the four-day final against Wayamba played at the R Premadasa Stadium.
The performances of these two promising stars proved too much for Wayamba, who managed modest totals of 223 and 181 to hand Basnahira North a comfortable ten-wicket win shortly before tea on the third day.
Wayamba's decision to bat first didn't work out the way they figured as they lost their first six wickets for 139 and only a plucky knock of 70 off 102 balls by the legspinner Kaushal Lokuarachchi lifted them to 223. The right-arm fast bowler Daminda Darshanpriya did most of the damage, taking five wickets.
Basnahira North also began badly, ending the first day at 93 for 4, which soon became 96 for 5 when Gayan Wijekoon was dismissed cheaply in the second over the following morning. But Mathews, who had watched the collapse from the other end, found a useful partner in Pushpakumara. The pair went on to resurrect the innings with a magnificent partnership of 185 for the sixth wicket that eventually turned out to be a match-winning one. Basnahira North recovered to post a total of 389, giving them a first-innings lead of 166.
Mathews once again displayed his true potential, scoring his third century of the tournament in five matches (152 of 275 balls) and Pushpakumara complimented him with 103 off 146 balls.
Wayamba responded well to the challenge in their second innings when the openers Michael Vandort and Mahela Udawatte posted a stand of 66. But once the Mathews-Pushpakumara combination had initiated the breakthrough - sending back Udawatte - Wayamba's innings slumped and lasted just 58 overs. Pushpakumara followed his fine century by picking up four wickets with his off breaks - three of them from the top order - to round off an excellent match.
While Mathews finished as the top run-getter in the tournament with 746 runs at 93.25, Pushpakumara ended up as the leading wicket-taker with 21 wickets (avg. 22.38) to go with his contribution of 316 runs (avg. 52.66) with the bat.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?