Sri Lanka Premier League round-up

Wimaladarma hands Saracens maiden win

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

November 1, 2009

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Tier A

With bad weather curtailing play for most of the final day, Saracens Sports Club was the only club to pull off a victory, beating Army Sports Club by 43 runs to record their first win of the season. Despite the loss, Army gathered enough batting and bowling points to lift themselves off the bottom of the table, at the expense of former champions Colombo Cricket Club. Saracens victory in a low-scoring game in Panagoda was fashioned by offspinner Dilshan Wimaladarma, who took a career-best 8 for 68 in the first innings and a match haul of 10 for 148, to bowl out Army for 161 and 153 in either innings. He had the support of left-arm orthodox spinner Geeth Alwis who took 6 for 36 in the second innings. On a pitch described by Saracens coach Dinesh Kumarasinghe as "not fit for a Division I club match", the spinners held the upper hand throughout. Spinner Ajantha Mendis also bowled splendidly, capturing 6 for 64 in the Saracens second innings, along with legspinner Seekkuge Prasanna, who finished the match with 7 for 98. However, their efforts were not matched by the batsmen who failed to chase down a moderate 197 in the fourth innings.

While the majority of matches turned out to be low-scoring affairs, pace-setters Nondescripts Cricket Club went on a run spree against Colombo Cricket Club (CCC) at Maitland Place, piling up the highest total so far this season, at 551 at 9. Upul Tharanga celebrated his recall to the Sri Lankan one-day side as Tillakaratne Dilshan's opening partner for the tour of India when he blazed away to a stroke-filled 155 off 210 balls. CCC skipper Tharindu Mendis' decision to field first turned out to be a nightmare for his team as Tharanga and his opening partner Yohan de Silva (88) gave Nondescripts a flying start with a double-century partnership. They built on that platform with rising star Dinesh Chandimal scoring his second century of the season, a career best 164 off 168 balls, as the CCC bowlers were put to the sword. CCC were pegged back further as the young Angelo Perera stroked an unbeaten half-century before captain Tharanga finally closed the innings. Riding on the experience of Bathiya Perera's tenth first-class hundred CCC at one time looked set to challenge the NCC total at 345 for 4. However, they lost their last six wickets for 53, falling to the slow left-arm spin of Chanaka Komasaru who ended with five wickets. Although the game ended in a draw, Nondescripts gained enough batting and bowling points to consolidate their position at the top of the table.

CCC coach Vipula Sittamige was optimistic that his team could turn things around in the next six weeks before the tournament ends. "We have been scoring runs and getting wickets but we have been unable to play our best eleven in any of the matches because some of our key players are not available for various reasons," Sittamage said. "At the same time, we have been constantly unlucky not to be able to earn first-innings points from most of our games. Things will definitely change in our favour in the coming weeks."

Sri Lanka Test wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene, who is under pressure to perform with the bat ahead of the tour to India, struck timely form with a pleasing century to carry Bloomfield Cricket & Athletic Club to a challenging 336, but bad weather prevented Ragama Cricket Club from making any progress towards overhauling that total, allowing only 22 overs to be bowled in their reply at the Thurstan College Ground.

Bloomfield's inability to gain first-innings points allowed third-placed Badureliya Sports Club to narrow the gap between them to less than a point, taking first-innings honours against Moors Sports Club at Braybrooke Place. Spinner Rangana Herath failed narrowly to give Moors first-innings points, when he came up with a heroic bowling performance. He took four of the first six Badureliya wickets to leave them struggling at 158 for 6, chasing Moors' first-innings total of 178. But Sahan Wijeratne stuck in for a 144-ball 39, to edge Badureliya ahead by 24 runs, before becoming Herath's fifth victim of the innings. Herath had not finished as he returned in the second innings to capture three more wickets as the visitors slipped to 61 for 6 before bad light and rain came to their aid.

Allrounder Angelo Mathews' 97 off 173 balls went in vain as Colts Cricket Club fell 37 runs short of grabbing first-innings points against Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club at the P Sara Oval. Chasing Tamil Union's total of 320, Colts were very much in the hunt at 232 for 4, but Mathews' dismissal with the score on 244 sparked off a collapse and Colts lost their remaining wickets for 39 runs. Muthumudalige Pushpakumara, another promising allrounder knocking on the selectors' doors, was Tamil Union's trump card. He top scored with a cultured 79 and followed it up with four wickets, including that of Mathews.

Last season's runners-up Sinhalese Sports Club's (SSC's) chances of winning the title this year suffered a major setback when they conceded vital first-innings points to Chilaw Marians Cricket Club at Maitland Place. Marians performed exceptionally well to bowl out a full-strength SSC team for 171. On a seaming pitch, which was under covers for almost 15 hours due to bad weather, SSC's batsmen, with the exception of Tharanga Paranavitana, floundered. Paranavitana managed an exceptional 103 off 189 balls, scoring 60% of his team's total. Despite the regular fall of wickets, Marians scraped out a narrow 39-run lead, thanks to a composed 76 off 129 balls from Milinda Siriwardene. SSC offspinner Sachitra Sennanayake continued to impress with his second five-wicket haul for the season.

Teams Mat Won Lost Tied Draw Aban Pts
Nondescripts Cricket Club 5 3 0 0 2 0 61.735
Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club 5 2 0 0 3 0 48.16
Badureliya Sports Club 5 2 2 0 1 0 47.605
Chilaw Marians Cricket Club 5 1 0 0 4 0 45.16
Sinhalese Sports Club 5 1 0 0 4 0 44.97
Ragama Cricket Club 5 0 1 0 4 0 39.905
Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club 5 1 1 0 3 0 35.835
Saracens Sports Club 5 1 1 0 3 0 35.11
Colts Cricket Club 5 1 1 0 3 0 28.52
Moors Sports Club 5 0 1 0 4 0 23.79
Sri Lanka Army Sports Club 5 0 4 0 1 0 14.15
Colombo Cricket Club 5 0 1 0 4 0 13.575

Tier B

High-flying Lankan Cricket Club (LCC) stretched their lead at the top of Premier League Tier B to more than 20 points when they took vital points in their drawn match against Burgher Recreation Club at FTZ Sports Complex. Burgher were humbled for 216 by the right-arm medium-pace of Sudeepa Perera who took five wickets. LCC were led by half centuries from Rasika Priyadarshana (95) and Upul Fernando (89) as they gained a healthy first-innings lead of 150. They had Burgher on the ropes at 123 for 6 in the second innings when bad light and rain robbed them of a possible win.

Panadura Sports Club continued to put pressure on the table-toppers by grabbing first-innings points against Police Sports Club at the Panadura Esplanade. Amila Perera's slow left-arm spin accounted for five Police wickets as they were dismissed for 210. Panadura ran up 313 with all-round contributions.

Umesh Karunaratne gave Seeduwa Raddoluwa Cricket Club their first win of the season with a grand all-round performance at Riffle Green. He scored twin fifties and took nine wickets in the match against Sri Lanka Air Force Sports Club.

Sri Lanka Navy Sports Club came within two wickets of recording their first win of the season when they reduced Sebastianites Cricket and Athletic Club to 145 for 8 after setting them a target of 303 at the De Zoysa Stadium. Former Sri Lanka Under-19 cricketer and Ananda College left-handed opener Udara Jayasundera scored a century on his first-class debut (102 in the Navy second innings).

Teams Mat Won Lost Tied Draw Aban Pts
Lankan Cricket Club 5 3 0 0 2 0 72.31
Panadura Sports Club 5 1 0 0 4 0 50.835
Sri Lanka Navy Sports Club 4 1 0 0 3 0 43.36
Seeduwa Raddoluwa Cricket Club 4 1 0 0 3 0 41.565
Burgher Recreation Club 5 1 0 0 4 0 36.72
Sebastianites Cricket and Athletic Club 4 0 2 0 2 0 21.395
Singha Sports Club 2 1 1 0 0 0 19.775
Moratuwa Sports Club 4 0 1 0 3 0 18.995
Sri Lanka Air Force Sports Club 5 0 3 0 2 0 15.92
Police Sports Club 4 0 1 0 3 0 11.265

Player of the Week - Dilshan Wimaladarma

After finishing with Ananda College, offspinner Dilshan Wimaladarma had been searching for the ideal club where he could display his bowling skills. He had short stints with Burgher Recreation Club, Air Force Sports Club and Bloomfield, before joining Saracens for the current season. Under the guidance of coach Dinesh Kumarasinghe, Wimaladarma is turning out to be a matchwinner for Saracens.

Last week, he took a career-best of eight wickets in an innings against Sri Lanka Army Sports Club to hand Saracens their first win of the season. "It is not an easy task taking eight wickets in an innings," said Kumarasinghe. "If he is looked after properly Dilshan has all the makings of a bowler who can reach the top of the ladder. Dilshan has variety: he bowls offspin, top spin and the one that goes straight through. He is not just an ordinary bowler but one who will matches for us.".

At 24, Wimaladarma has time on his hands to develop into a top-class spinner and in Saracens he may have found the right club to pursue that goal.

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