Tharindu Kaushal's seven-wicket haul set Nondescripts Cricket Club's innings-and-49-run win over Ragama Cricket Club in motion, placing NCC in sight of a Premier League title. A loss in the final round next week may make their top position vulnerable, but they are in a position of comfort, 10 points clear of the second-ranked team.
Kaushal, the offspinner, was into the attack on the first morning, dismissing both openers cheaply, before his 7 for 79 would prevent any other batsman from crossing 40. That those figures are not even a personal best is testament to Kaushal's promise, at 21, and though the selectors have been careful to delay his entry to international cricket until he is mature, Kaushal is making a case.
Niroshan Dickwella, 20, slammed 128 from 116 balls - an innings that featured four sixes and 11 fours, as NCC scored 393 at 5.25 runs an over. Much of Dickwella's runs were made in a breakneck 157-run third-wicket stand with Jehan Mubarak, whose 97 off 103 slightly worsened his season average, which is now 103.09. He has now hit 1120 runs in his last eight matches, making as strong a case for inclusion in a Test squad as a 33-year-old can make, in this period of manic regeneration in the top team. Legspinner Malinga Bandara took 4 for 70 for Ragama.
Kaushal took three more scalps in the second innings to complete his 10-wicket haul, as Ragama succumbed for 180 in the second innings. Seamer Dushmantha Chameera took 4 for 37, hastening the end of the match on the third day.
Second-placed Moors Sports Club took first-innings points in a high-scoring draw against Sinhalese Sports Club, after a 94-run last-wicket partnership between maiden centurion Kaushalya Gajasinghe and No. 11 Vimukthi Perera lifted Moors to 437. Batting at No. 7, Gajasinghe hit 109 not out, forging strong stands with the lower order after arriving at 161 for 5. Perera contributed 46 to their association, before SSC's right-arm seamer Kasun Madushanka completed his 4 for 83.
Test opener Dimuth Karunaratne struck a 75 at the top of SSC's response, forging a 141-run partnership alongside Tharanga Paranavithana, who also crossed 70. Thilina Kandamby carried the middle order with 147, however, as many of the men around him fell cheaply. SSC finished with 400 in their first innings, as three Moors bowlers picked up two wickets each.
Tamil Union Cricket Club's mediocre first-class season continued against Colombo Cricket Club, who achieved a six-wicket victory, thanks in part to chinaman bowler Lakshan Rangika's 7 for 70 in the second innings.
Tamil Union captain Jeevan Mendis made 77 after choosing to bat first, but received meagre support from the rest of the top order, who had been felled by CCC seamer Chathuranga Kumara. Kumara took the top four wickets in his first five overs, to have Tamil Union at 37 for 4. Mendis would mount a resurgence, but when he fell with the score on 161 for 8, it seemed Tamil Union would not score 200. An unbeaten 51 off 46 balls for No.10 Nisala Tharaka lifted them to 215, however.
That total was easily eclipsed by CCC, whose lower-middle order clicked with a series of 50-plus partnerships. Maduka Liyanapathiranage top-scored with 81, but captain Hasantha Fernando and No. 3 Lasith Abeyratne also chipped in with half-centuries. Right-arm seamer Tharaka took four wickets.
Liyanapathiranage took the first two Tamil Union wickets with his offspin, before Rangika split the innings open with a killer spell that accounted for five batsmen in ten overs. That haul meant CCC had only 107 to chase, which they did in less than 20 overs in the fourth innings, though they lost four batsmen in the process.
A strong first innings with the bat and Isuru Udana's five-wicket haul set up Ports Authority Cricket Club's 10-wicket victory over Army Sports Club, despite an eight-wicket haul for Army offspinner Lakshan Madushanka.
A 108-run opening stand between Mahela Udawatte and Gayashan Weerasekara formed the foundation for Ports Authority's 400, with Udawatte going on to hit 97 before being dismissed by Madushanka. Udawatte also forged a century-stand with Ashan Priyanjan, who slammed three sixes in his 54-ball 57, before both fell in quick succession to Madushanka. Wicketkeeper-batsman Gayan Maneeshan then took charge of the innings, hitting 91 alongside the lower order, as No. 9 Chaminda Bandara also contributed 55.
Army was timid in response, as their top order collapsed against Ports Authority's opening bowlers. Udana had completed a five-wicket haul in the first six overs he delivered, before the other bowlers accounted for the tail. Only an unbeaten 34 for Manjula de Zoysa saw Army limp into triple figures. They eventually finished at 119, before being asked to follow on.
They batted better in the second innings, keeping Udana wicketless this time, but only just managed to wipe out their 281-run deficit. Priyanjan was the unlikely destroyer for Ports Authority, taking the wickets of half-centurions Lakshitha Madushan and Lakshan Edirisinghe among his five wickets. Ports Authority were given five runs to chase for victory, which they did without losing a scalp.
Panadura Sports Club will face a relegation playoff after finishing a winless Plate Championship with a seven-wicket loss against Colts Cricket Club, in which offspinner Dilruwan Perera took 11 wickets. Panadura will play Emerging League champions Saracens Sports Club next weekend, with the winner to appear in next year's first-class competition.
Bloomfield Cricket Club won a low-scoring thriller against Badureliya Sports Club by two runs, on a seam-friendly surface. Bloomfield managed only 100 in their first innings, losing all 10 wickets to seamers inside 31 overs, but they still managed to take the narrowest of first innings leads, which would prove to be the difference between the sides. They set Badureliya 178 to win in the fourth innings, but fast bowlers Nuwan Pradeep and Vishwa Fernando shared six wickets, and Badureliya fell agonisingly short.
Chilaw Marians drew with Air Force Sports Club, as Marians' Umesh Karunaratne starred with both bat and ball. Karunatne hit 101 in the first innings, as captain Sahan Wijewardene hit 132, before taking five wickets with his offspin, helping secure first-innings points. Air Force's Dushan Vimukthi hit the highest score of the match, with 174.