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Vithana, Perera shine as Colts win title

ESPNcricinfo rounds up the eighth round of matches of the Premier League Tournament 2011-12

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

Premier League Tier A

Colombo Colts CC, led by Malinda Warnapura, have secured the Premier League Tier A title after they came out on top of their crucial game against Singhalese SC, which ended in a draw at Havelock Park last weekend.
The high-scoring match that saw four centuries being scored resulted in Colts obtaining first-innings points, which extended their lead in the standings to more than 14 points from second-placed SSC.
SSC seemed to have the game under their control when they rattled up 401 batting first after winning the toss. Sri Lanka Test batsman Thilan Samaraweera warmed up for the two-Test series against England with a 249-ball hundred against his former club. His 160-run parntnership for the fourth wicket with Thilina Kandamby, who scored 124 off 214 balls, laid the foundation for SSC's total.
Colts lost a wicket in the 12th over of their reply, but SSC had to wait another 85 overs for their next success. Colts opener Harsha Vithana and wicketkeeper Kushal Janith Perera shared the first triple-century partnership of the season, as SSC tried as many as nine bowlers to dislodge them. The pair put on 320 for the second wicket with both batsmen making their career-best scores. Vithana scored 157 off 319 balls and Perera 186 off 290 balls as they took the game away from SSC and edged their club closer to the championship title. Colts closed at 435 for 4 and managed to grab four cheap SSC wickets in the second innings to show their complete domination. Colts have only a game against lowly placed Badureliya SC to play the coming weekend and skipper Malinda Warnapura said that they wanted to finish off the season in style, with a win.
"The success of our side is not due to any one player who has been outstanding, it has been a team effort where everyone contributed at different times," Warnapura, under whose leadership Colts have now won the Premier League twice and finished runner-up once in the past three years, said.
"At the start of the season the club wanted us to give the youngsters exposure. Apart from me and Sajeewa Weerakoon who are both over 30 the rest are in their twenties. I am glad that we were able to win the championship with a young team."
SSC, whose best chance is to finish runner-up, take on bottomdwellers Nondescripts CC in their final match. First-innings points in that game will ensure the position, but NCC, who are on the brink of relegation, will try their best to grab as many points as possible. Along with NCC, Moors SC and Badureliya SC are also fighting hard to avoid being relegated.
Moors lifted themselves off the bottom of the table with their first win of the season, defeating Lankan CC by 186 runs at Moors Sports Club Ground. Despite a fighting century from opener Ashen Silva for Lankan CC, Moors' first-innings total of 304 was enough for a lead of 106. Moors went for quick runs in their second essay and reached 272 for 5, scored at 5.78 runs an over. Former Sri Lanka one-day cricketer Dilhara Lokuhettige, in only his second appearance of the season, slammed 101 not out off 85 balls, including five sixes, to give the Moors innings the necessary impetus. Faced with a target of 379, Lankan CC folded timidly for 192, with former Sri Lanka left-arm spinner Dinuka Hettiarachchi taking 8 for 55 in the second innings.
Nondescripts CC once again slipped to the bottom of the table when they came off second best to Ragama CC/ptta-11/engine/match/534888.html in their drawn match at the Nondescripts Cricket Club Ground. NCC's batting failed to get past Ragama's modest first-innings total of 217; they were bowled out for 184 by the spin of former Sri Lanka legspinner Malinga Bandara, who returned his best figures of the season with 7 for 56. An opening partnership of 217 between Udara Jayasundara, who got a career-best 154, and Ian Daniel (110) saw Ragama set NCC an imposing target of 408 to chase in the fourth innings. Skipper Jehan Mubarak's second-successive century and his third of the season ensured NCC's batting did not succumb twice in the match.
Defending champions Bloomfield have made a late spurt, recording their third win of the season, but it seems they have left it too late to catch up with the top two. Sri Lanka spinner Suraj Randiv pressed for a Test place against England with a superb spell of offspin bowling. After going for 163 runs without success against SSC the previous week, Randiv was in his element as he made the ball talk, grabbing 11 wickets in the game, with figures of 8 for 128 in the second innings. Badureliya found, to their dismay, that totals of 226 and 379 were not enough to stop the rampaging Bloomfield side, who went onto complete an emphatic seven-wicket win.
Edging closer towards the final weekend, Tamil Union's performances began to falter as they conceded vital first-innings points to Chilaw Marians in their drawn match played at the P Sara Oval.

Premier League Tier B

With their sixth win of the season in eight matches Sri Lanka Army, captained by Manjula de Soysa, have secured the Premier League Tier B crown with one match to play. Without the services of their matchwinner Seekkuge Prasanna, who has left for Dhaka to play in the Asia Cup, Army showed they had enough ammunition in store to beat Sri Lanka Air Force by an innings. Army was assured of the title when their closest rivals Sri Lanka Navy were beaten by by one wicket by Saracens in a thrilling finish. The win propelled Saracens to third spot and they have a very good chance of ending runner-up if they win their last match against Sri Lanka Ports Authority. Navy plays Air Force in their last game.
Colombo CC, at the bottom of the table for most of the season, should feel safe after grabbing first innings-points off Panadura in a high-scoring game. Two good knocks of 93 and 115, by Saman Jayantha and Upul Fernando respectively, saw them overhaul Panadura's total of 330 comfortably, with four wickets in hand. However their real matchwinner was the six foot, three inches tall offspinner from Lumbini M: Maduka Liyanapathiranage, who returned career-best match-figures of 12 for 147, which included an innings-best of 7 for 98 in the first innings. Maduka, who compares his bowling style to that of Sri Lanka spinner Ajantha Mendis, was playing in only his fourth first-class match.
Another offspinner, Aravinda Premadasa, made a memorable first-class debut for Kurunegala Youth CC when he captured 10 wickets for 62 including figures of 7 for 54 in the second innings as Police, chasing a tall target of 433, were bundled out for a paltry 144 and lost by 288 runs. There were also maiden first-class hundreds for KYCC's Sisira Kumara, at the age of 32, and for 21-year-old Sajith Kalumpriya.