Ragama, SSC stay top in weekend of draws
High-scoring games were the flavour on the third weekend of the Premier League Tier A competition, but none of the five matches managed to produce a result, all ending in draws. The matches commenced two days later than scheduled, on Sunday, and ended on Tuesday because Sri Lanka's Independence Day fell on Saturday.
Leading the run parade was defending champs Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club, who ran up the highest total for the weekend - 500 for 6, declared - against Nondescripts CC. A feature of that innings was the season's first triple-century partnership, 302 for the fifth wicket, between Sri Lanka batsman Chamara Silva and allrounder Chintaka Jayasinghe. Both batsmen made career-best scores. Silva, who is leading Bloomfield this season, scored 158 off 178 balls and Jayasinghe made 173 not out off 167 balls. The pair came together at 186 for 4 and was not separated until Bloomfield reached 488. There was high entertainment value while these two were in the middle, with three of the NCC bowlers conceding over a century of runs.
NCC then collapsed in a heap to the slow left-arm deliveries of Upul Indrasiri, who picked up five wickets to force the visitors to follow-on, 287 runs in deficit. NCC looked to be in deep trouble when they lost their first two wickets for 31 runs by the seventh over, but opener Yohan de Silva and Sri Lanka batsman Chamara Kapugedera put up staunch resistance to deny Bloomfield of any chance of pulling off a victory by figuring in the second highest partnership for the season. Their stand of 259 ensured NCC an honourable draw. While De Silva put up dogged resistance at one end, scoring 124 off 194 balls, Kapugedera - who's reputation in the national side is that of a one-day batsman - took the attack to the bowlers to score a career best 158 off 168 balls.
One of the pleasing sights during this round of games was to see Sri Lanka Test wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene back in action in his usual position behind the wickets, after undergoing a hernia operation midway during the Test series against Pakistan last October. He returned to competitive cricket at the start of the season but did not keep wickets.
Frontrunners Ragama CC and Sinhalese SC retained their 1-2 positions on the points table by obtaining first-innings points from their respective matches. Ragama were boosted by a century opening stand between Udara Jayasundera and Ian Daniel. Chilaw Marians' challenge was snuffed out by Ragama's two left-arm bowlers Nilanka Premaratne and Sachith Pathirana who, between them, took nine wickets. Chilaw Marians put up a better batting performance in their second innings after following-on to deny Ragama full points.
A high quality century from Thilan Samaraweera, Sri Lanka's top run-getter in the recently concluded Test series in South Africa saw SSC post a competitive total of 459 for 9 declared. Anchored by a maiden century for Moors SC by England Lions and Worcestershire batsman Moeen Ali, the home team kept their hopes of getting up to SSC's total alive. Ali, a top order left-hand batsman came within one run of equalling his career-best score of 158. His dismissal at 270 for 6, put paid to any chance Moors had and they finished 76 runs in arrears.
Colts CC also lost ground when they conceded first-innings points to Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club, who moved into third position on the table. Colts' total of 308 proved insufficient to stop Tamil Union from gaining a vital lead of 133. Tamil Union went past Colts' total losing only four wickets. No one made a hundred but five batsmen scored fifties, the highest of which was Gayashan Weerasekera's 85 - eventually the highest score by a batsman in the match. Former Air Force SC leg-spinner Viraj Pushpakumara returned career-best figures of 6 for 138, playing in his third first-class match.
Lankan CC's slow left-arm spinner Gayan Sirisoma recorded the season's best match analysis when he finished figures of 12 for 141 against Badureliya SC, but his team was denied victory when they ran short of time to chase down 160 for victory.