Premier League Tournament round-up January 8, 2009

Sinhalese SC grab top spot

Thilina Kandamby made the highest score of the season to lead SSC to an innings victory over Badureliya © AFP

Sri Lanka A captain Thilina Kandamby took defending champions Sinhalese SC to the top of the Premier Tier A table with a sterling batting performance against Badureliya CC at the SSC ground in Colombo, during which he compiled the highest score of the season. Pace setters Ragama CC had a free weekend which enabled SSC to unseat them and occupy the top spot for the first time this season

Kandamby lifted SSC from 58 for 5 to an imposing total of 436 for 9 declared, a position from which they went on to win by an innings and 177 runs at Maitland Place. Kandamby's 184 off 215 balls beat the season's previous highest of 168 by Colts CC batsman Angelo Mathews, against Colombo CC. Kandamby's innings included 19 fours and two sixes and was the cornerstone on which SSC built their total. He shared partnerships of 110 with former Sri Lanka fast bowler Nuwan Zoysa (79) and 165 with Shalika Karunanayake (76).

Badureliya CC, who began the second day on 17 for 1 chasing SSC's total, lost 19 wickets in a day to suffer a humiliating loss. They were dismissed for 161and 98 by spinners Sachithra Senanayake and Kaushal Lokuarachchi.

Title contenders Tamil Union suffered a major blow when they went down by three wickets to Colombo CC at the Saravanamuttu Stadium. Sri Lanka batsman Jehan Mubarak played a captain's innings of 56 not out to steer CCC to their first win of the season. Needing 153 off 41 overs, CCC won with four balls to spare.

Tamil Union was saved from embarrassment in their first innings by Gihan Rupasinghe whose 146 lifted them from 62 for 7 to 309. The total included five penalty runs after CCC was penalised because their bowlers ran on the danger zone of the pitch on more than two occasions.

Rupasinghe, who hit 20 fours and a six, forged partnerships of 105 for the eighth wicket and 109 for the last. However he could not repeat that performance and another poor batting display in the second innings left CCC with an achievable target.

Army SC, who are without the services of Sri Lanka spinner Ajantha Mendis, suffered their fourth defeat of the season when they were beaten by eight wickets by Colombo Colts at Havelock Park. Left-arm spinner Sajeewa Weerakoon and medium-pacer Nuwan Kulasekera were too much for the Army batsmen to handle and they succumbed for 175 and 123. Weerakoon scalped eight victims and Kulasekera five.

Sri Lanka opener Upul Tharanga warmed up for the tri-series in Bangladesh by scoring 119 and 44 but he could not stop Nondescripts CC from conceding first-innings points to Bloomfield in their drawn match at Maitland Place. NCC were dismissed for 257 and 244 as Yohan de Silva's 116 gave Bloomfield a substantial lead of 109.

In a high-scoring match at Braybrooke Place, former Sri Lanka left-arm spinner Dinuk Hettiarachchi gave Chilaw Marians a 45-run lead by taking 5 for 109 against Moors SC. Replying to Marians' score of 389, Moors were given a tremendous boost by their captain Anil Rideegammanagedera, who single-handedly tried to wrest the initiative with a fighting innings of 69 not out. Another former Sri Lanka cricketer Gayan Wijekoon scored a hundred and opener Amal Athulathmudali contributed 93.

Saracens continued their winning streak in the Premier Tier B with a comfortable six-wicket win - their fourth of the season - over Singha SC at Reid Avenue. Saracens medium-pacer Prabath Priyankara starred with career-best figures of 6 for 71 in the first innings and left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara took 9 for 137 in the match.

Panadura SC also kept pace with Saracens by recording their fourth win when they defeated Lankan CC by ten wickets at Panadura. Former Sri Lanka allrounder Dinusha Fernando played a crucial role in Panadura's victory, scoring 64 and taking 5 for 73.

Medium-pacer Sudeepa Perera took career-best figures of 6 for 59 and left-arm spinner Sudheera de Zoysa took match figures of 8 for 117 to star in Moratuwa SC's seven-wicket win over Burgher RC at the De Soysa Stadium.

Sebastianites thrashed Police SC by an innings and 90 runs at Police Park. Police's batting was dismantled in the first innings for 57 by medium-pacer Chathura Athukorale, who not only took a career-best 7 for 21 and match figures of 11 for 69 but also contributed with the bat by scoring an unbeaten half-century.

Bomb blast stops match

The Tier B match between Air Force and Seeduwa Raddoluwa had to be abandoned after the first day's play because of a bomb blast a few yards from the ground. An official of the Air Force said that about four Seeduwa Raddoluwa players were affected by the blast, which was suspected to be set off by an LTTE suicide bomber, and could not be present at the ground the next day to resume the match.

"We were told that they had felt the shock of the bomb blast and the players' families did not want them to continue the match at the same venue," the official said.

A Seeduwa Raddoluwa official said four of their players had been injured by the blast which occurred soon after the end of the first day's play. One player was badly injured by the debris while three others had bled from their ears. "Psychologically we were not in a position to resume the match. We have requested the tournament committee to reschedule the match," he said. Seeduwa Raddoluwa were dismissed for 224 and Air Force had replied with 84 for 3 by the close of the first day.

Player of the Week - Thilina Kandamby

One player who benefited the most by coming to Sinhalese SC is Thilina Kandamby, the former Ananda College and Bloomfield cricketer. He has not only improved his batting but is also attracting the national selectors' attention. As long as Kandamby was at Bloomfield, he never blossomed as a middle-order batsman but he thrived in his debut season for SSC in 2007-08. The transformation was stunning and he finished with the second-highest aggregate of the season, scoring 822 runs at an average of 68.50, including three centuries, as many half-centuries, and a career best of 202. That performance won him a place in the Sri Lanka Twenty20 team to Canada last October and in the one-day squad to Zimbabwe in November. However despite playing first-class cricket for the past eight seasons, Kandamby has yet to break into the Test side. His recent innings of 184 against Badureliya CC which propelled SSC to the top of the Premier League is an indication that he has the mental strength to play big innings in the longer version of the game. For that change, Kandamby has to thank Sri Lanka A coach Chandika Hathurusingha who played a key role in his transformation from a batsman unable to bat for longer periods and with question marks over fitness to a big innings player with a penchant for runs.

Points table

Tier A

Team Mat Won Lost Tied Draw Aban Pts
Sinhalese 7 2 0 0 5 0 70.56
Bloomfield 7 2 1 0 4 0 69.815
Ragama 6 2 0 0 4 0 68.535
Colts 6 3 1 0 2 0 64.26
Col CC 7 1 2 0 4 0 58.445
Tamil Union 7 1 1 0 5 0 53.845
Chilaw 7 1 0 0 6 0 50.865
Moors 7 1 1 0 5 0 50.39
Nondescripts 6 0 1 0 5 0 41.69
Badureliya 8 1 3 0 4 0 34.895
SL Army 6 0 4 0 2 0 17.925

Tier B

Team Mat Won Lost Tied Draw Aban Pts
Saracens 8 4 1 0 3 0 101.805
Panadura 7 5 0 0 2 0 94.625
Seeduwa RCC 7 3 2 0 2 0 71.25
Burgher 8 2 2 0 4 0 67.795
Moratuwa 8 2 2 0 4 0 67.285
Police SC 8 1 4 0 3 0 53.9
Lankan CC 8 0 2 0 6 0 51.74
SL Air SC 7 2 1 0 4 0 48.205
Singha SC 8 1 4 0 3 0 46.225
Sebast CAC 7 1 3 0 3 0 35.07