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Andrew Fidel Fernando
February 26, 2013
Sinhalese Sports Club and Tamil Union remained atop the Group B table after round four of the Premier League, while Moors Sports Club leapt to the top of Group A with a big win over Burgher Recreation club. Round four yielded nine outright results and four innings victories across the ten matches.
Thilan Samaraweera was named in Sri Lanka's Test squad as a replacement for the injured Mahela Jayawardene, but he suffered an injury himself during SSC's innings and 42-run victory over Navy Sports Club at SSC. Samaraweera had earnt his place in the national side after an emphatic start to the first-class season, and his form brought him a third ton in four matches, as he helped SSC to a 338-run first-innings lead. He twisted his knee while at the crease however, and was forced to retire hurt on 118. The injury is not expected to rule him out for the first Test in Galle, and the selectors are not expected to name a replacement for him in the squad. Wicketkeeper-batsman Kaushal Silva also made a hundred in SSC's only innings, after Sachithra Senanayake had collected his second five-wicket haul of the season, to reduce navy to 163 all out.
Badureliya Sports Club surprised a top club for the second time in the season when they secured a sizeable first-innings lead over Tamil Union at the P Sara Oval, but faded dramatically in the second innings to allow the hosts a reprieve, and a comfortable victory. Badureliya's first innings 310 was built around 19-year-old opener Pabasara Waduge's second hundred in his rookie first-class season, which he made against the best pace attack in the competition, on what is traditionally the most pace-friendly pitch in the league. He moved to fourth on the league's run-scorer's list after the innings, having made 389 runs at 55.57.
Tamil Union were kept to 250, after Badureliya made 310 in the first innings, with fresh Test call-ups Kithuruwan Vithanage and Jeevan Mendis making fifties, alongside TM Sampath, but struck quickly through their pacemen to reduce the visitors to 55 for 5 in the second innings, and eventually 153 all out. Mendis picked up eight wickets in the match, raising his chances of a Test debut after already impressing with the bat, and Mahela Udawatte's fourth innings 124 ensured Tamil Union suffered no more hiccups, as they chased down 214 to win.
A big first-innings ton from Angelo Mathews set up a 236-run lead for Colts Cricket Club over Army Sports Club, who were group leaders before this match, but despite enforcing the follow-on, Colts were unable to secure victory. Mathews' 210-ball 155 is a welcome boost for the new Sri Lanka Test captain, who has often struggled to put big scores together at Test level. Army were skittled for 151 in the first innings, but dug in after being asked to bat again, primarily through Rishan Kavinga and Asela Gunaratne, who both made hundreds. Army's 469 all out in the third innings ate up 114 overs, and made a result impossible for Colts.
Shehan Jayasuriya and Chaturanga de Silva tuned up for their match for the Emerging XI against visiting Bangladesh next weekend with two hundreds for Moors Sports Club, who brushed aside Burgher Recreation Club by an innings and 233 runs. Jayasuriya made 123 from 160, and de Silva hit 113 from 125, before left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara took 12 wickets for 94 to complete the rout.
Nondescripts Cricket Club's young stars shone again as they claimed their third victory of the season, over Ports Authority Cricket Club, to retain their place at third on the Group B table. Tharindu Kaushal took another five-wicket haul, as he too prepares to play against Bangladesh in Matara, while Dinesh Chandimal made 47 and 73 in his two innings. Chamara Kapugedara also made a 79 in the 101-run win.
Prasanna Jayawardene has not yet begun keeping full time for Panadura Cricket Club, but contributed a 79 to an innings win over Saracens Sports Club that was also notable for Malith Chathuranga's 123 from No. 8. Elsewhere, Michael Vandort's 251 - the highest score in the season so far - and a six-wicket, first-innings haul for Malinga Bandara, resulted in Ragama Cricket Club defeating Air Force Sports Club by an innings and 27 runs.
Slow-bowling allrounder Sachith Pathirana took 11 wickets for 206 and made a 32-ball 62 for Chilaw Marians, in their match against Colombo Cricket Club, but still could not prevent his team from slipping to their third defeat in the season, and Suraj Randiv's 6 for 69 in the second innings helped Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club dismiss Lankan Cricket Club 93 runs short of their target, as he attempts to hold off Kaushal and both Ajantha and Jeevan Mendis for the second spinner's position in the national side.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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