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January 1, 2009
Ragama CC roared back into contention in Premier League Tier A when they pulled off a stunning three-wicket win over Bloomfield at Reid Avenue to regain top position, as the race for the championship hotted up.
In a top-of-the-table clash, Ragama were indebted to a magnificent bowling spell by 25-year-old right-arm seamer Dinesh Daminda and seasoned campaigner Indika de Saram for steering them to an important victory.
Daminda returned the season's best figures for an innings and for a match, to sink the table toppers who had held the upperhand throughout the match until the final day. He picked up 8 for 51 in the first innings, and then added a further three in the second innings to end with match figures of 11 for 77 - bettering the 11 for 123 by Saracens SC left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara against Lankan Cricket Club last month.
Bloomfield struggled to 218 despite having Sri Lankan batsmen Chamara Silva and Saman Jayantha in their ranks. However, despite Daminda's outstanding bowling, Ragama's batting failed as they managed only 142 in reply. But they fought back to dismiss Bloomfield for 159 in the second innings and leave themselves with a target of 235.
Going into the third day, Ragama were rather shakily placed at 164 for 6, requiring a further 71 for victory with only four wickets intact.
The final day was poised for a tense finish, but Ragama had an ace up their sleeve in the in-form de Saram, who resumed from his overnight innings of 75. The 35-year-old Saram forged match-winning partnerships of 70 for the seventh wicket with Kaushalya Weeraratne (42) and an unbroken 53 for the eighth with Malinga Bandara (31 not out) to see Ragama through.
de Saram scored 102 off 118 balls - his third century in four innings - which included 11 fours and a six, making him the leading run-getter for the season with over 500 runs.
Defending champs Sinhalese SC moved to their highest position for the season with their first win - a crushing innings and 32-run victory over newcomers Army SC who are struggling at the bottom of Tier A with no wins in five matches.
SSC's win was fashioned by captain Tharanga Paranavithana who scored his second hundred of the season to enable them to get to 355, a total which proved to be a match-winning one as the soldiers were bundled out for 193 and 130, succumbing to SSC's bowling line-up comprising Shalika Karunanayake, Sachitra Senanayake and Thilina Kandamby.
Sri Lanka's Under-19 World Cup captain Ashan Priyanjan distinguished himself in the domestic club circuit with a splendid batting double to steer Tamil Union to a six-wicket win over Colombo Colts at Havelock Park. Priyanjan made a compact 88 to guide Tamil Union to a narrow first-innings lead of 12 and followed it up with another impressive knock of 58 not out during Tamil Union's 192-run chase.
In a high-scoring game at Braybrooke Place, Moors SC drew with Badureliya CC despite a 223-run stand by Nadeera Nawala (142) and Wesley Fernando (68).
Three centuries were scored at Maitland Crescent where the match between Colombo CC and Chilaw Marians ended in a stalemate. For CCC, Charith Sylvester scored 111 in the first innings and Bathiya Perera slammed a hundred off 82 deliveries in the second. Janaka Gunaratne ensured that Marians, who conceded a first-innings lead of 127, did not lose the match as he stroked an unbeaten 122, after Marians had lost half the side for 101 while chasing 327.
In Tier B, Seeduwa Raddoluwa Cricket Club were the only club to emerge victorious in a high-scoring weekend of matches, defeating Sebastianites by two wickets to keep their title ambitions on course.
They lie second behind Saracens SC who were held to a draw by Air Force but managed vital first-innings points. Seeduwa's match-winners were offspinner Umesh Karunaratne, who picked up nine wickets in the match, and batsman Buddhi Samarawickrema who top scored with 113.
Two centuries from Heshan Tillekaratne and Raju Gayashan could not help Lankan Cricket Club to a win against Singha Sports Club at the Premadasa.
Police Sports Club were lucky to escape with a draw after Burgher Recreation Club had held the upper hand for most of the clash at the Police Park Ground. While captain Gihan Perera scored a composed 122 in the first innings, it was the bowlers, Romesh Eranga and Charith Keerthisinghe who nearly pulled it off for Burgher.
An unbeaten 98 from Milinda Sepala ensured Moratuwa Sports Club avoided defeat against Panadura Sports Club at the De Zoysa Stadium. His fighting knock which came off 143 balls, ensured the few points for the hosts after Amila Perera's spell of 5 for 45 in the first innings had swung the momentum towards Panadura.
Player of the Week - Dinesh Daminda
Five years ago Dinesh Daminda would have given up hopes of continuing his career as a cricketer when he suffered a nasty knee injury at practice and was confined to crutches. The incident occurred at the Bloomfield nets when Daminda, bowling with a pair of rubber soled boots, slipped and fell twisting his left knee. He had screws inserted in his knee to keep it intact and through a six-month period of rehabilitation recovered remarkably well to be ranked among the ten best fast bowlers in the country clocking speeds at around 135 kph. However last season, he had a recurrence of the injury which again pushed back his ambitions of playing for his country. Thankfully he recovered and went to England to play in the Lancashire league but had to fight for his place in the Ragama team as they had already found suitable replacements. Daminda missed the first few matches at the start of the season but in his third game produced a superb piece of seam bowling. His career and season's best figures helped Ragama regain the top spot in Premier Tier A. "That nasty knee injury was a definite setback to what would have been a promising career for Daminda," said Ragama CC president Roshan Abeysinghe. "If not for the injury he would have been among the top flight fast bowlers in the national squad."
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala