Sinhalese consolidated their position at the top of the Premier League Tier A table with a crushing innings-and-104-run victory over Colombo Colts at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground.
For the third time in five matches, their strong batting line-up ran up a total in excess of 500 to which the opposition had no answer. Sinhalese's batting has been so overwhelming that they look well in sight of the title just halfway through the season.
Sinhalese's two prolific batsmen, Thilan Samaraweera and Thilina Kandamby, both made their third hundreds for the season and figured in their second double-century partnership, putting on 248 for the fourth wicket. While Samaraweera celebrated his selection to the Tests in the Caribbean next month with a typically workmanlike 184 off 264 balls, it was the left-handed Kandamby who caught the attention with a 268-ball 202, the first of his career. Colts' batsmen fumbled against Sinhalese's varied bowling attack and succumbed for totals of 274 and 174. The win opened up a 15-point lead for Sinhalese over their nearest rivals Moors, who moved into second place after Colombo were held to a draw by Nondescripts.
Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath was another player to be delighted with his selection. Recalled to the national team for the West Indies tour, Herath bowled Moors to a 36-run victory over Ragama. His five wickets in the second innings gave him nine for the match at Moors Sports Club Ground.
Colombo lost valuable ground when they fell 10 runs short of Nondescripts' first-innings 356 despite a fighting unbeaten century from Amila Weththasinghe at Nondescripts Cricket Club Ground. For the hosts, Chanaka Wijesinghe and Kosela Kulasekara made centuries.
Former Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Lanka de Silva guided Tamil Union to a six-wicket win over Chilaw Marians at the P Saravanamuttu Stadium to move into the fourth spot. Chasing 332 in the fourth innings, Tamil Union were indebted to de Silva (97*) and Gihan Rupasinghe (91) as they put on 162 for the fourth wicket.
Bloomfield's first win of the season was inspired by their new-ball bowlers Tharanga Lakshitha and Tyron Gamage who took all ten wickets as Badureliya were shot out for 71 in the first innings at Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club Ground. Enjoying a big first-innings lead of 256, Bloomfield went on to bat Badureliya out of the match by setting them an improbable target of 670. Although Badureliya's batting put up a much-improved show in their second innings, they lost by 278 runs. Prasanna Jayawardene, Sri Lanka Test wicketkeeper, with a timely century ahead of the West Indies tour, and young left-hand batsmen Yohan de Silva and Sanjaya Gangodawila, who made their maiden first-class hundreds, helped Bloomfield run up big totals.
Army showed that they were made of champion stuff when they recovered from being bowled out for a meagre 57 to turn the tables on Singha at the Army Ground. Their match-winner was right-arm medium-pacer Ajantha Mendis who finished with a ten-wicket match haul to take his tally to 40 wickets for the season in five matches. Singha needed to chase a paltry 136 for victory but were bundled out for 92. The win means Army remain on top of Tier B and are the only team to have triumphed in all their matches so far.
Player of the Week: Thilina Kandamby
When Thilina Kandamby decided to move from Bloomfield to Sinhalese, he had reasons for doing so. Having played for Bloomfield for five years, he saw no future for him as the club showed any inclination towards improving facilities for its cricketers. With an outstanding school career behind him with Ananda College, much was expected of Kandamby, but till the current season he has failed to fulfil his potential. "My move to Sinhalese has paid great dividends because I am with my former Bloomfield team-mate Naveed Nawaz who is the coach. The cricket facilities at Sinhalese are great and I am benefiting a lot by batting with Thilan Samaraweera," said 25-year-old Kandamby. "I owe a lot to my 'A' team coach Chandika Hathurusinghe for transforming me into the batsman I am today. He changed my stance and changed my mental attitude. My biggest drawback was that I could not bat for longer periods and there were questions about my fitness. This season I have overcome them."
Along with Samaraweera, with whom he has figured in two double century stands, Kandamby has scored the most number of centuries for the current season - three. Two of them are big ones - 163 against Tamil Union and a career-best 202 against Colts last weekend which should dispel any doubts about his ability to bat for longer periods and his fitness. He is currently in the form of his life with 597 runs at 99.50 from five matches.
"I am keeping my fingers crossed that if I can maintain this form till the end of the season I would be in line for selection to the national team," said Kandamby who represented Sri Lanka in four ODIs in 2004.