Moors beat Colts Cricket Club in their Premier League Tier A match in unusual circumstances scraping through to victory on penalty runs awarded by the umpires for time wasting.
Moors, who had conceded a first-innings lead of 129, were set 239 for victory in 42 overs. But when the umpires eventually called off play for bad light at 6.24 pm, Moors found themselves still two runs short of the target with five wickets intact. However, their disappointment turned to delight a few minutes later when the umpires, in consultation with match referee Graeme Labrooy, the former Sri Lanka fast bowler, decided to award them five penalty runs on the grounds of deliberate time-wasting tactics by the Colts captain Jeevantha Kulatunga, who had earlier received a warning for the same offence.
Those five penalty runs gave Moors victory by five wickets and lifted them to the runner-up slot, behind Sinhalese in the Tier A standings.
Colts coach Romesh Kaluwitharana said that he was disappointed with the result and denied his side were trying to waste time. "We were concerned for the safety of the fielding side because it was so dark out there and even the street lights had come on at that time," said Kaluwitharana, the former Sri Lanka wicketkeeper-batsman.
"The batsmen who were offered the light were in no way going to come in because they were closing in on a victory. But the umpires should not have allowed the match to go on for so long." Kaluwitharana said that Colts would appeal against the decision to the tournament committee. The match was notable for former Sri Lanka Under-19 captain Angelo Mathews scoring his maiden first-class hundred.
Sinhalese moved inexorably towards the title by making short work of Bloomfield, winning by ten wickets within three days. It was their sixth win in eight games, and with only one match to play against Colombo next week they look assured of the title.
Sinhalese's match-winner was offspinner Sachithra Senanayake who took 7 for 81 in the Bloomfield second innings and had match figures of 10 for 85 - both career-best performances. Earlier opener Tharanga Paranavitana, captaining the side in the absence of Avishka Gunawardena who has joined the unofficial ICL, gave Sinhalese the advantage with a well-paced knock of 177 off 219 balls.
Defending champions Colombo Cricket Club, who moved to second place the previous weekend, lost a great opportunity of setting up a title clash with Sinhalese when they were surprisingly beaten by Chilaw Marians on their home turf at Maitland Crescent. In a low-scoring game, Marians squeezed home by four wickets after they had been reduced to 43 for 6, chasing 116. Gayan Wijekoon, the former Sri Lanka allrounder, steered them to victory with an unbeaten 52 off 65 balls to add to his excellent bowling of 4 for 41, which restricted Colombo's first innings to 183.
Ragama came back strongly after conceding a first-innings lead to beat Nondescripts by five wickets. Two young cricketers selected for one-dayers against West Indies next month performed creditably. Upul Tharanga made nearly half the Nondescripts second-innings total of 123 with a compact 61. He was the only batsman to counter the penetrative bowling of Kaushalya Weeraratne who took four wickets.
Bottom-placed Badureliya suffered their fifth defeat of the season, losing to Tamil Union in three days by an innings and are in danger of being demoted to Tier B next season. Muthumudalige Pushpakumara once again displayed his all-round contribution bagging nine wickets in the match and scoring 71.
In Tier B, Army emerged champions when they defeated Moratuwa by seven wickets for their eighth win out of nine this season. Army, who were unbeaten throughout the season, finished 34 points ahead of Panadura, who had to be satisfied with the runner-up spot. By virtue of winning Tier B, Army have earned promotion to Tier A next season.
Player of the Week -Sachithra Senanayake
Sachithra Senanayake, the 23-year-old offspinner from Sinhalese, didn't make the national one-day side for the West Indies tour, losing out to Army's Ajantha Mendis because his bowling had more variety.
That made Senanayake more determined to prove the selectors wrong. He was in terrific form with the ball making it talk in the first innings against Bloomfield with figures of 4-1-4-3 and going on to capture a career-best 7 for 81 runs in the second innings to condemn Bloomfield to defeat in three days. It was the first time in his career he had a ten-for in a match.
He is a vital cog in the Sinhalese bowling line-up and his tally of 47 wickets at 13.80 from eight matches makes him the season's second highest wicket-taker after Mendis who has 68 wickets.