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December 10, 2008
Rain once again disrupted all five of the Tier A games; however, two clubs from Tier B - Saracens Sports Club and Police Sports Club - managed to score easy wins during the fourth weekend of the Premier League Tournament matches.
The most exciting cricket, though, was on the first day at Maitland Place. Moors Sports Club were skittled out for 36 after being put in by Nondescripts Cricket Club. Moors SC crumbled against 23-year-old Kosela Kulasekara, a right-arm medium-pacer, who took 6 for 13 - his first first-class five-for. Moors SC lasted 21.5 overs for the second-lowest total in first-class matches in Sri Lanka, five more than the 31 made by Kurunegala Youth Cricket Club against Sinhalese Sports Club in 1993-94 and equaling Singha Sports Club's 36 against Sinhalese SC in 2005-06.
Eric Upashantha, the former Sri Lanka fast bowler and Moors SC coach, was surprised by the team's poor showing, which is more embarrassing considering it is the team's centenary year. "It was a typical first-day wicket with the ball seaming around which is what you would expect," he said. "To be bowled out for such a low total was a real surprise. On any wicket you cannot get out for that kind of score. I would put it down to bad batting. The lads did not apply themselves."
Luckily for Moors SC, rain came to their rescue. No play was possible on the final day. Moors SC were at 133 for 6 after Nondescripts CC, boosted by a century from Sri Lanka A opener Kanchana Gunawardene, declared at 287 for 9. The team also spilled some catches, but Upashantha was confident they would overcome the setback. "This innings was a good eye-opener," he said. "If we can win the championship at the end of the season it would be a perfect icing on the cake."
Saracens SC's five-wicket win over Lankan Cricket Club was set up by left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara's match figures of 11 for 123. He followed up his 5 for 58 in the first innings with career-best figures of 6 for 65 in the second. Lankan CC were routed for totals of 204 and 216, and Saracens SC, boosted by a fine century from Kasun Bodhisha, replied with 302 and chased down a target of 119. Saracens SC were fortunate that their match was played in Katunayake, about 30 km north of Colombo. They escaped the bad weather prevalent in Colombo and the suburbs on Sunday.
Police SC were fortunate they required only 46 runs on the final day to beat Singha SC at Police Park. They lost five wickets while trying to wrap up the win before rain could play spoilsport. Middle-order batsman Supun Nirmala compiled a sturdy 116 to give Police SC a handy first innings lead of 108, which eventually helped the team to get their first win of the season.
Left-handers Michael Vandort and Jehan Mubarak warmed up for Sri Lanka's tour to Bangladesh with contrasting hundreds for Colombo Cricket Club. Vandort compiled an impressive 138 and Mubarak, fresh from a successful tour of Zimbabwe, made an unbeaten century as they added 173 for the second wicket to take Colombo CC to an imposing 343 for 2 in reply to Badureliya Sports Club's 244 at the R Premadasa Stadium. The weather, though, had the final say with no play possible on the last day.
At Havelock Park, rival captains Gayan Wijekoon (Chilaw Marians Cricket Club) and Malinda Warnapura (Colts Cricket Club) compiled unbeaten hundreds but their attempts to turn those contributions into victory were thwarted by rain. Chamara Silva, who has been out of the national side in recent months, guided Bloomfield to a first-innings lead over defending champions Sinhalese Sports Club at Reid Avenue. Silva's stroke-filled 106 helped Bloomfield edge past Sinhalese SC's total of 233 by 17 runs. At Panagoda, the return of Ajantha Mendis for Sri Lanka Army Sports Club failed to prevent Tamil Union from gaining a first-innings lead.
Ranil Dhammika, the former Sri Lanka Under-19 player, kept Seeduwa Raddoluwa Cricket Club on top of Tier B with a sterling all-round performance against Burgher Recreation Club at Havelock Park. The left-hand batsman top scored with 94 in his team's 359 and then tied down the opposition to 245 by claiming 6 for 72 with his left-arm spin.
Player of the Week - Malinda Pushpakumara
Consistency has been the key for left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara's success with the ball for Saracens SC. In the past two seasons, 21-year-old Pushpakumara, a former Sri Lanka Under-19 player, has been the leading wicket-taker for his club. Pushpakumara has been among the top wicket-takers for Under 23 Youth Tournament Division 1, taking 41 scalps at 13.58 in eight matches in 2007-08 and 39 wickets at 16.17 from nine matches in the 2008-09 season.
"At his age he is the best spinner of his type in the country. I am surprised that he has not been even considered for the development squad," Dinesh Kumarasinghe, the Saracens SC coach, said. Last week Pushpakumara was once again outstanding with the ball, as his first ten-for helped Saracens SC to an emphatic win over Lankan CC. Kumarasinghe is confident that Pushpakumara, who is also a versatile fielder, has the potential to make it to the national side.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?