Kumara, Janoda take Chilaw Marians to title win
Chilaw Marians Cricket Club 242 (Kumara 98, Peiris 6-50) and 527 for 6 (Kumara 181, Karunaratne 123) drew with Nondescripts Cricket Club 175 (Pussegolla 57, Janoda 6-46)
Chilaw Marians CC defended their moderate total of 242 against Nondescripts CC to earn a vital first innings lead and win the Under-23 Youth Division One title for the fifth time after the drawn three-day final at the SSC.
Put into bat, Chilaw lost opener Geeth Alwis off the first ball, and his opening partner Lahiru Weragala followed six runs later, both falling to Sri Lanka's Under-19 World Cup captain Chathura Peiris. Geeth Kumara, top-scoring with 98, steadied the innings with support from captain Umesh Karunaratne and Buddi Samarawickrame. But, from a position of strength at 214 for 4, Chilaw lost their remaining six wickets for 28 runs as Peiris finished with 6 for 50.
NCC would have fancied their chances at this stage, but they crumbled to 88 for 5 as Chilaw's opening bowler Arosh Janoda ran through the top-order. A 75-run stand between Shashrika Pussegolla and captain Laksiri Illeperuma raised NCC's hopes of a revival. At 163 for 5, the game was evenly poised but Illeperuma was run-out for 35, and Chilaw captured the remaining four wickets cheaply as NCC were dismissed for 175. Janoda took 6 for 46, including the last wicket of Pussegolla who made 57.
With over four sessions left, Chilaw did not press for a win and preferred to bat out the game, finishing on a mammoth 527 for 6. The final day was highlighted by the batting of Kumara and Karunaratne who completed hundreds and shared a fourth-wicket stand of 260. Kumara struck 17 fours and two sixes in his career-best 181 off 336 deliveries and Karunaratne hit 16 fours and two sixes in his 139-ball 123.
Karunaratne praised the performances of Kumara and Janoda. "It was the dedication and understanding of the players that enabled us clinch the title. Right throughout the season we were never short of talent. Everyone contributed towards our success. When one player failed there was always another to take over. That was the spirit with which we played throughout the tournament," said Karunaratne.
An elated coach Mahesh Weerasinghe put the win down to discipline. "I had no problem with them which was one of the main reasons for our success. The contribution made by assistant coach SK Silva and fielding coach MMA Rohitha should also be commended."
Eight members of the winning team were rewarded by Bank of Ceylon Chairman Dr. Gamini Wickramasinghe and Deputy General Manager Sam Samarasinghe who offered them employment at the bank. The bank sponsors the Chilaw women's cricket team. Chilaw won the Under-23 title previously in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007.