Sangakkara's 285 hands Nondescripts victory
Sri Lanka's top-order batsmen, blamed for the team's dismal showing in the recently-concluded Commonwealth Bank Series, showed outstanding form ahead of their tour of the Caribbean in the Premier League competition matches played over the weekend.
Leading the run parade was top-ranked Test batsman Kumar Sangakkara who carved out the season's highest score of 285 for Nondescripts against Moors at Maitland Place. Sangakkara tore into the Moors bowling which comprised two bowlers in the national squad for the series against West Indies - Chanaka Welegedara and Rangana Herath - hitting 31 fours and three sixes in his 292-ball innings. His knock improved on team-mate Chanaka Wijesinghe's 250 made against Tamil Union which had stood as the season's highest since January. Thanks to Sangakkara's exploits Nondescripts recorded their second win of the season beating Moors by ten wickets. Despite their second defeat of the season, Moors held onto second place.
Tillakaratne Dilshan was the other in-form Sri Lanka batsman, stroking a run-a-ball 121 featuring nine fours and six sixes for Bloomfield in their drawn encounter against Tamil Union.
Pace-setters Sinhalese were the only other club from Tier A to record a win on a rain-affected weekend. They trounced Chilaw Marians by eight wickets at the R Premadasa Stadium, their fifth win of the season to extend their lead at the top to 28 points. Left-arm fast bowler Thilan Thushara was Sinhalese's match-winner with a haul of ten wickets - a performance that should give him a lot of confidence for the Caribbean tour.
Two Test discards performed outstandingly for Ragama. Indika de Saram stroked a stylish 188 off 152 balls (19 fours, 12 sixes) and legspinner Malinga Bandara captured nine wickets in the match as Ragama forced Badureliya to follow-on, but had to be satisfied with a draw.
Defending champions Colombo Cricket Club lost further ground to leaders Sinhalese when they were held to a draw by Colts despite a long-overdue century from Sri Lanka one-day batsman Chamara Kapugedera. Colombo remained in third slot just ahead.
Army took another step towards winning Tier B, which would assure them of a promotion to the elite Tier A next season, when they beat Police by six wickets, the match ending inside two days. It was their seventh win in as many matches. Army's spinner Ajantha Mendis picked up eight wickets in the match to become the first bowler this season to take 50 wickets.
Player of the Week: Kumar Sangakkara
Kumar Sangakkara is reaping the benefits of the hard work that he's put in at practice over the years. There was no cricketer who worked harder at his game than Aravinda de Silva when he was representing Nondescripts and Sri Lanka. Sangakkara seems to have taken over that mantle from the great man and last weekend carried the brilliant form he showed in Australia into the domestic scene by compiling the highest score of the season - 285 for Nondescripts against Moors.
Success for Sangakkara has not come overnight. He has worked hard for it. One of his greatest attributes is that he works hard at practice to perfect every shot in the book. Sangakkara admitted that under coaches Tom Moody and Trevor Penney, and John Dyson and Shane Duff before them he had got a good understanding of what his strengths were, and how he could get better. "Moody and Penney always pushed us out of our comfort zone, and that made me want to raise my game," said Sangakkara. "Penney would talk to me about practising every single shot I could possibly play so that I could use them in a game and have options. Everything from a forward defensive to a lofted drive to a sweep to a reverse-sweep was practised in the years leading up to this patch."
Not satisfied with working on his batting alone, Sangakkara has also talked to people like Sandy Gordon, the sports psychologist, on how to build an innings and improve his game. The secret to Sangakkara's batting is he tries to keep everything as simple as possible. "I try and watch the ball and I try and make sure I am balanced. Those are the two most important things for me. Everything else I have is usually covered through practice."
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