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Colombo fall at first hurdle

A round-up from the opening matches of Sri Lanka's Premier League

Cricinfo staff
The 2007-08 Premier League got off to a sensational start when defending champions Colombo Cricket Club were beaten inside two days by Moors SC in a low-scoring game played at Braybrooke Place. Seventeen wickets fell on the opening day of the match and another 19 on the second as Moors wrapped up the contest to win by four wickets. The low scores might suggest that the pitch was at least partly to blame, but Sumithra Warnakulasuriya, the Colombo coach, disagreed. "I don't blame the wicket but our batsmen for batting so irresponsibly," he said. "There was a little grass but the nature of the wicket was not the reason to be bowled out for such low scores.
"What was most disappointing was that we were at full strength with national players Michael Vandort, Chamara Kapugedera and Jehan Mubarak and could not make 150 on both occasions."
Colombo were shot out for 149 and 147, falling to the left-arm spin of Rangana Herath who took nine wickets in the match.
"There was a lack of temperament from our batsmen," Warnakulasuriya said, "and I fear that some of them are not so committed when it comes to playing for their club."
Sajith Fernando was Tamil Union's saviour, scoring an undefeated 142 to stave off certain defeat against Nondescripts CC at the Saravanamuttu Stadium. Set an unlikely 409 for victory, Tamil Union were greatly indebted to Fernando. Batting at No.3, Fernando battled through 114 overs as Tamil Union clung on to deny Nondescripts the win. Fernando's match-saving innings overshadowed Chanaka Wijesinghe's knock of 250 - the first double-hundred of the season.
Nuwan Kulasekera, the Colts fast bowler, celebrated his recall to the national team for the tour of Australia by bowling his side to victory over Bloomfield on their home ground. Set 187 to win, Bloomfield fell short by 29 runs as Kulasekera grabbed 7 for 27.
In another close game Badureliya CC stunned Chilaw Marians, winning by 19 runs at Badureliya Sports Club. Chasing 322, Marians were dismissed for 302 despite a century from Harsha Cooray. Dinusha Fernando took 5 for 69 for Badureliya.
Sinhalese Sports Club completed a 240-run win over Ragama CC in the other Tier A match at the SSC, with Sachithra Senanayake, the offspinner, picking up 5 for 50 to prevent Ragama chasing a daunting 482.
Player of the Week
It is not often that you find a batsman making a double-century in the opening round of a tournament, but that's exactly what Chanaka Wijesinghe achieved for Nondescripts. In their first innings of 194, he top-scored with 61 not out and, after Nondescripts had conceded a first-innings lead of 31, he gave them an outside chance of victory by compiling 250 off 307 balls in the second innings. That NCC failed to achieve victory (falling short by one wicket) could not be blamed on him. Wijesinghe, 25 who hails from Kandy has been around for some time representing Kandy Youth CC, Ragama CC and Moors SC before coming to NCC.
"What is so striking about Chanaka's batting is that he has tightened his defence and is prepared to wait for the loose balls to make runs," Ranjith Fernando, the former Sri Lanka batsman, said. "If Chanaka can show a degree of consistency during the season with his batting and make some really big innings it will be rather difficult for the selectors not to have a closer look at him." Wijesinghe's previous highest score in 39 first-class matches was 146.