Left-arm spinners figured quite prominently last week in the Premier League tournament which is interesting poised with only weeks to go. Chilaw Marians CC are well on course to win their first Premier League title after recording their fourth victory of the season and their third in a row. As on the previous two weekends, it was the left-arm spin of Dinuka Hettiarachchi which set up their nine-wicket win over Badureliya CC and enabled them to maintain a nine-point lead over title rivals Nondescripts CC. Hettiarachchi took his third successive ten-wicket match haul as Badureliya was dismissed for 69 in the first innings at Katunayake. Although Badureliya put up a better batting performance in the second to score 416, Chilaw Marians were left with only 127 to get in the fourth innings, a figure they achieved off 19.2 overs. Hettiarachchi with a match bag of 13 wickets (6/25 & 7/201) became the leading wicket-taker for the season taking his tally to 59 wickets from 10 matches.
Two other left-arm spinners Sohan Boralessa and Sachith Pathirana lifted Colombo CC from the bottom of the table to two places above by bowling their club to their first win of the season following seven draws and two defeats. This left only Ragama CC and Moors SC (who now occupy the bottom slot) without a single win. Boralessa passed the 50-wicket mark for the season with a haul of seven wickets in the match against Ragama CC at Maitland Place, which Colombo CC won by 31 runs. Pathirana formed a perfect foil taking nine wickets in the match as the two bowlers ran through the strong Ragama batting for 190 and 158. Colombo CC captain Jehan Mubarak held the batting together in the second innings, making 110 out of 201.
The fourth left-arm spinner to bowl his team to victory was Chanaka Komasaru whose match figures of 8 for 133 gave Nondescripts CC a much-needed seven-wicket victory over Bloomfield at Reid Avenue to remain in the title hunt. Apart from Komasaru the other bowler who played a match-winning role was right-arm fast-medium bowler Kosala Kulasekara who also ended up with eight wickets in the match. It was not an easy game for NCC who barely managed to gain a first-innings lead of 17 runs and it was Bloomfield's collapse in the second innings for 127, despite a fighting knock of 72 by Suraj Randiv, that left them with a comfortable target of 111 to chase in the fourth innings.
NCC coach Hemantha Devapriya was optimistic of the club's chances of winning the title. "We had a good start in the season but with or without luck we are still fighting for the top spot. It will be good to be No. 1 but anything that comes has to be accepted with good spirit." NCC will be handicapped in their final match for the season against Saracens starting on Friday as they will be without Lasith Malinga and Upul Tharanga, who are with the national side in India, and allrounder Farveez Maharoof who is unlikely to be available because of injury. "We will use our maximum resources to record a win. Much will depend on our in-form bowlers Kosala Kulasekara and Chanaka Komasaru and the top order batters," Devapriya said.
If NCC fail to get an outright win, Chilaw Marians who have a game in hand but are free this weekend, will win the title. Even if NCC win and obtain maximum points, Chilaw Marians still have a chance of emerging champions if they take first-innings points from their final match of the season against Moors SC starting on December 26.
Colombo Colts moved to third spot with their fourth win of the season beating Moors SC by five wickets at Havelock Park. Two former Under-19 World Cup players from the same school (St Joseph's College, Colombo) Thissara Perera (113 not out and 5/69) and Roshen Silva (97) starred in Colts' victory.
Saracens offspinner Dilshan Wimaladarma's third ten-wicket match haul for the season failed to stop Tamil Union from grabbing first-innings points in their drawn match at the P Sara Oval. Wimaladarma took eight wickets in an innings for the second time in Tamil Union's first innings of 319 and followed it up with a further five in the second. But Saracens' batting failed to live up to their bowling and fell short by 63 runs. Tamil Union made use of the remaining time to pile up batting points by scoring 349-6. Sachithra Serasinghe with a career-best 126 and Kanchana Gunawardene with 130 shone for Tamil Union.
Lankan CC have virtually crowned themselves as Premier Tier B champions having completed the season with four wins from nine matches. They have a total of 102.18 points, which is a 17 point lead over their nearest rivals Seeduwa-Raddoluwa CC who play their final game against Singha SC starting on Friday. Seeduwa-Raddoluwa have a tall task ahead of them to overhaul Lankan CC as the maximum points obtained by any team in the competition for this season is 16.5 which is insufficient to displace Lankan CC from the top of the table.
Cricketer of the Week: Mahela Udawatte
Touted as the successor to Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Udawatte, 23 has yet to fulfill that role. Although he bats like the master blaster and has powerful shots, in nine one-day internationals and five Twenty20 internationals Udawatte has yet to convince the selectors that he is the player to fill the great man's shoes. Joining Chilaw Marians CC straight from school, Udawatte became an instant hit when he reeled off three hundreds in five matches in the Under-23 tournament in 2004-05. He was rewarded with a place in the Development Squad and then the Sri Lanka A team. A powerful and attacking batsman who likes to take on the quick bowlers he is rated highly by former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene.
While Udawatte keeps fighting to earn a permanent slot in the national side, he is at the moment on the verge of leading Chilaw Marians to their maiden Premier League title. Appointed captain for the on-going season Udawatte has shown maturity beyond his years to lead his club well. "We are almost 95% there it all depends on how NCC perform this weekend," Udawatte said. "Our success is due to the unity in the team where the senior and junior members mingle with each other freely. We have one or two senior players like Dinuka Hettiarachchi and Gayan Wijekoon the rest are all talented youngsters. The key is to utilise their talents properly. I think we have done that.
"We have a squad of 15 players and everyone has got a game. There are no outstanding performers in the team but success is due to the contribution of everyone. Dinuka has been our main strike bowler and he has captured the most wickets by any bowler this season," Udawatte said.
Tier A points table
Tier B points table