Lankan Cricket Club were crowned Premier League Tournament Tier B champions after their nearest rivals Seeduwa Raddoluwa Cricket Club failed to obtain the necessary batting points against Singha Sports Club at the Ananda College Ground to displace Lankan CC from the top spot.
Having completed their matches for the season Lankan CC ended No. 1 on the points table with 102.18 points, awaiting the result of the Seeduwa Raddoluwa-Singha SC clash. Seeduwa Raddoluwa though, had to be content with the runners-up spot despite beating Singha SC by 111 runs. They finished a fraction of a point (0.485) behind Lankan CC.
An excellent bowling effort from Umesh Karunaratne handed Seeduwa Raddoluwa the win, with the young offspinner taking a career-best innings haul of 7 for 146. He finshed with 13 wickets in the match and bowled well in tandem with another former Under-19 World Cup spinner Ranil Dammika, who ended with five wickets in the match.
Lankan CC captain Suranjith Silva said the only time they were worried was during Seeduwa Raddoluwa's second innings, when they looked like reaching a total of over 400 which would have given them the extra batting point.
"At 204 for 2 we were a bit anxious that they could reach the required total and displace us in the table," said Silva. "But thankfully they could manage only 300 in their second innings and we started to breath easy."
It was the second time under Silva's leadership that Lankan CC had won a title, having led them in 2007-08 to the Premier League Tournament Tier A crown.
Lankan CC coach Geethaka Warnakula, who has been in charge for the past five years, said winning the title was a tremendous achievement for a club that does not have a club house, a ground and gym. "We practice on the side wickets at Colombo Colts Cricket Club and when it rains we go indoors," Warnakula said. "The lack of gym facilities has resulted in the players doing gym work individually.
"The club has to depend largely on the funds given by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and funding from the club president (provincial council minister Sarath Sumanasekera) and members. We get Rs 29 lakh from SLC, but our expenses for a season run up to Rs 32 lakh. It is because the club does not have a sponsor. We have not contracted a single of the 17 players in the squad but give them an enhanced figure of Rs 4500 per day for each match."
With the 25-year-old club assured of a promotion to Tier A next season, Warnakula is hopeful that with a bigger share of the funds they can recruit some top cricketers to the side. "It won't be easy playing in a higher tier," he said. "We need to strengthen our team. Our aim is to finish fifth or sixth in our first season in Tier A before going onto plan for bigger achievements."
Nondescripts Cricket Club kept their slim chances of winning the Tier A title alive by recording their fifth win of the season, ending their season with an impressive six-wicket win over Saracens Sports Club on home turf at Maitland Place.
The victory gave Nondescripts a seven-point lead over title favourites Chilaw Marians, who play their final match against bottom-placed Moors SC on Friday. Chilaw Marians require only first-innings points to clinch their maiden title.
Nondescripts though, were behind the eight ball throughout the match. They only managed a lead of 23 after being strongly placed at one stage on 216 for 4, replying to Saracens' first-innings total of 247. In their second essay, Saracens also blew away a chance of setting Nondescripts a target of more than 208 when they collapsed from a promising 176 for 4 to 230 all out. Nondescripts eventually won, thanks to a well-paced 92 from opener Susantha Pradeep.
"We are happy with the situation," said Nondescripts coach Hemantha Devapriya. "Everything depends on the result of this week's match between Chilaw Marians and Moors Sports Club which is beyond our control.
"We had a young side and whatever we have achieved so far with them is something that we can be proud of. Our aim was to finish the season on a high. We have done that and winning the championship would be a bonus. Even if we don't, a fitting tribute must be paid to the players for their effort."
Former champions Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) made the most of a drawn match against Badureliya Sports Club at the SCC, amassing a combined total of 862 runs in both innings to move to third in the table. It was SSC's final match of the season and their final position will depend on how fifth-placed Colts Cricket Club fare against Badureliya this week. SSC's Shalika Karunanayake (172) and Navin Perera (153 not out) hit career-best scores while Lasith Fernando and Hans Fernando also contributed to the run-spree with hundreds. Dimuth Karunaratne was not so lucky, missing out on a hundred in each innings - dismissed for 90 and 83.
Badureliya replied strongly to SSC's first innings of 506, but fell short by a big margin after spinner Sachitra Senanayake captured six wickets to become the fifth bowler to take 50 wickets for the season.
Colombo Cricket Club (CCC), who were facing relegation at one stage, recorded their second win on the trot, defeating Sri Lanka Army Sports Club by 136 runs at Panagoda. CCC's victory was scripted by left-arm spinner Sohan Boralessa, whose match haul of eight wickets took his tally to 62 wickets from 11 matches, making him the leading wicket-taker for the season.
After a promising start to the season Bloomfield Cricket & Athletic Club lost more ground as they conceded first-innings points to Tamil Union Cricket & Athletic Club at Reid Avenue. They made a great effort to pull off a win in their final game, but fell short by two wickets.
Cricketer of the Week: Suranjith Silva
At 34, Suranjith Silva knows he is past an age where he can make a strong claim for a place in the national side as a legspinner. The nearest he came to gaining national recognition was when he toured with the national Under-24 team to South Africa in 1998, subsequently leading to a call-up to the A team and a place in the national pool.
Having missed out on opportunities to win a national cap, Silva's next best achievement was to captain his club Lankan CC to honours. He has achieved this feat twice - leading them to the Premier Limited Overs title in 2007-08, and after missing the 2007-08 season because of his commitment to Springvale South Cricket Club in the Melbourne district, he returned for the current season to lead Lankan CC to the Tier B crown.
Silva attributes the victory to the presence of seven experienced cricketers in the side, who have played a combined total of over 100 first-class matches, as well as the high team spirit which they were able to maintain right throughout the season. Lankan CC finished the season unbeaten with four wins (and five draws). If there was a match they came close to losing, it was against Sebastianites Cricket and Athletic Club, whom they eventually beat by 101 runs.
"Having secured a narrow 12-run first innings lead, we lost six wickets for 88 in our second innings and we were in danger of defeat," said Silva. "But the late order showed great character and fight to take us to 226 from where we were able to turn the match around in our favour."
Silva, who is also an ECB Level II qualified coach, divides his time playing six months of domestic cricket and six months in the English leagues. Last year he appeared for Old Whitgiftians CC in the Surrey League.