Colombo through to NSL four-day semi-finals

Wednesday, 16 March 2022 02:32 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Sri Lanka quick Kasun Rajitha (right) is one of three bowlers from Colombo occupying the top three spots in bowling


  • Four teams contest for the remaining three spots

 By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

With two wins out of three matches Colombo led by middle-order bat, Sammu Ashan has assured themselves of a place in the semi-finals of the National Super League four-day tournament while the bottom of the table Dambulla, unless they pull themselves up from where they are in their final two matches, may not make the cut into the top four.

Dambulla in fact failed to finish in the top four of the National Super League 50-over tournament and is in danger of suffering the same fate in the ongoing four-day tournament as well. They lie at the bottom of the standings with 8.22 points after two games and will have to come up with something extra special and gain valuable points in their last two matches against Kandy starting on Thursday at Pallekele and against Jaffna commencing on 24 March at Dambulla.

As only the top four teams will qualify to play in the semi-finals, one of the five teams competing is certain to miss out, and Dambulla having suffered that misfortune in the 50-over tournament would not want to make it two in a row.

Last week they ran up a decent total of 418 at Dambulla, only for it to be overhauled by Galle who replied with 513.

Sri Lanka wicket keeper/batsman, Minod Bhanuka who leads Dambulla has a big task ahead of him of trying to turn things around for his team. He batted well enough to score 163 and 49, but his bowlers failed to defend their total of 418.

Colombo (39.64) who hold onto a 20-point lead over their nearest rivals Kandy and head the standings have a free weekend, which allows the other four teams to battle it out for the remaining three places.

Fourth-placed Jaffna (15.69 points) take on third-placed Galle (16.2) at Hambantota, while the other game is between Dambulla and second-placed Kandy (29.25) at Pallekele.

The big task ahead of Dambulla is to find a way to get rid of Kandy captain Kamindu Mendis (467 runs), Oshada Fernando (337) and Sahan Arachchige (316) cheaply if they are to be in with a chance of winning. These batsmen are the three-leading run-getters in the tournament having scored six centuries between them. Likewise, the top three bowling spots are occupied by Colombo spinners, Prabath Jayasuriya (15 wickets), Lakshitha Manasinghe (12) and Sri Lanka fast bowler Kasun Rajitha (11).

The problem for Dambulla is that their bowling looks pretty weak in comparison to other sides. They have two Sri Lankan spinners in the side Malinda Pushpakumara and Lakshan Sandakan who between them have captured seven wickets whilst conceding 323 runs. Dambulla has struggled to get sides out and this was quite evident in their last match where despite scoring 418 runs, they yet could not contain Galle to a lower total.

Galle having leapfrogged over Jaffna with their first innings win over Dambulla last week will be looking to repeat that success in a contest where only 0.5 points separate the two sides. In the last game played at Hambantota, Jaffna came out on top taking first innings points from Colombo. They made over 700 runs in both innings (555 and 217/5) and will fancy their chances of doing it once more against Galle to improve their position in the standings.