MCA begins centenary celebrations with Premier League
By M. Shamil Amit

The Mercantile Cricket Association will be celebrating their centenary celebrations in their run to 2011. Leading the celebrations will be the Singer Sri Lanka MCA Premier cricket tournament which is scheduled to commence this morning.

“It has been a long and successful journey for the MCA” said the incumbent President of the MCA Mahesh Wijewardena. “The MCA came into being in 1911 under the guidance of the British before it changed hands in the early 60’s with C.T.A. Schaffter being elected as the first Sri Lankan president. We were proud to have our own ground which was built in 1972. Since then it has gone from strength to strength with many sports disciples being conducted of which cricket takes the top spot”. Mahesh further stated that MCA cricket tournament sponsored by Singer Sri Lanka is the longest surviving sponsorship which is now in its 18th year having commenced in 1994.

The special significance this year is that the MCA headed by Mahesh Weerasinghe hails from Singer who holds the post of Commercial Director. He elaborated that 2011 is going to be a special year and cricket will be one of the highlights among the other activities that have been planned for the centenary celebrations.

Nasser Majeed Marketing Director Singer speaking on the occasion emphasized that they were happy be involved with the tournament for the last 18 years.

Seven teams will contest the league and the knockout tournament comprising of Sampath Bank ‘A’ the defending league and T20 champions, Janashakthi Group ‘A’ the defending knockout champions, MAS Unichela, HNB ‘A’, John Keells Group ‘A’, Seylan Bank ‘A’ and MAS Active Synergy who are stepping into the big league for the first time.

The T20 which was scheduled to be played from November 26 to 28 had to be postponed due to bad weather and the new dates will be announced depending on the availability of grounds. There will be a change in the T20 tournament with Seylan Bank opting to pull out and that slot will be filled by ETI the 2010 Division ‘B’ runners up.

MAS Unichela led by Malin Silva is virtually a national side comprising of T.M. Dilshan, Prasanna Jayawardena, Malinga Bandara, Dilhara Fernando, Chamara Silva, Farveez Maharoof, Mahela Udawatte, Gayan Wijekoon, Nadeera Nawela, Malinda Warnapura, Shalika Karunanayake, Chathura Peiris and Kushal Janith.

Defending league and T20 champions Sampath Bank will be led by the diminutive wicket keeper Kaushal Silva who will have Jeewan Mendis, Thilina Kandamby, Rangana Herath Hasantha Fernando, Charitha Buddika and Dilhara Lokuhettige.

Knockout champions Janashakthi will be led Muditha Maduwantha who has Bathiya Perera, Dilshan Munaweera, Muthumudalige Pushpakumara, Sachith Pathirana, Hans Fernando and Ranga Dias as top players.

HNB ‘A’ led by Shanuka Dissanayake will have the services of Saman Jayantha, Chinthaka Jayasinghe, Sajeewa Weerakoon, Hemantha Boteju, Sujeewa de Silva and Nimesh Perera.

John Keells led by Janaka Gunaratne have Angelo Mathews, Shaminda Eranga, Michael Vandort, Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Malinda Siriwardena, and newcomers Akshu Fernando and Rumesh Buddika.

Seylan Bank is led by Chanaka Wijesinghe who will have in his ranks Thilan Samaraweera, Tharanga Paranavithana, Kaushalya Weeraratne, Ian Daniels, Nuwan Kulasekera and Gayan Sirisoma as their top players.

Newcomers MAS Active Synergy will be led by Jeewantha Kulatunga will have the services of T.M. Sampath, Tharanga Lakshitha, Indika de Saram, Sameera de Zoysa, Geeth Alwis and youngsters Angelo Perera, Kithruwan Withanage and Charith Jayampathi.

The Premier league consisting of 21 matches will get underway on December 19 and is scheduled to end on January 9 2011. This will be followed by the knockout stage due to get underway on January 12 with the final being slotted to be played on January 22.The schedule:

League Stage – December 19 – Sampath Bank vs HNB at BRC. Seylan Bank vs Janashakthi Group at P. Sara Stadium and John Keells vs MAS Unichela at Colts December 22 – Janashakthi Group vs John Keells at P. Sara Stadium, MAS Unichela vs MAS Active Synergy at BRC and HNB vs Seylan Bank at Colts. December 29 – MAS Active Synergy vs Sampath Bank at BRC, Seylan Bank vs John Keells at P. Sara Stadium and HNB vs Janashakthi Group at Colts.

January 2 – Janashakthi Group vs MAS Unichela at BRC, John Keells vs MAS Active Synergy at Reid Avenue and Sampath Bank vs Seylan Bank at Colts. January 5 – HNB vs MAS Active Synergy at P. Sara Stadium, Janashakthi Group vs Sampath Bank at Colts and Seylan Bank vs MAS Unichela at BRC. January 8 – Sampath Bank vs John Keells at NCC, MAS Unichella vs HNB at Colts and MAS Active Synergy vs Seylan Bank at P. Sara Stadium. January 9- MAS Unichela vs Sampath Bank at P. Sara Stadium, MAS Active Synergy vs Janashakthi Group at Colts anc John Keells vs HNB at BRC.

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