B-Love Kandy 151 for 5 (K Mendis 44, Ahmad 3-27) beat Dambulla Aura 147 for 4 (Dhananjaya 40) by five wickets
B-Love Kandy overcame a spate of injuries and a demanding schedule – this was their second game in 24 hours – to be crowned champions of the fourth edition of the Lanka Premier League. Chasing 148 to win, they did so with one ball to spare.
And in that sense Mathews exemplified this, guiding home a straightforward chase that had suddenly had its tension levels ratcheted up at the death by the loss of a cluster of late wickets. His 21-ball 25 won’t make any highlight reels, but the stand-in skipper was just the person you would have wanted at the crease with the game winding down, on a sticky wicket, and the requirement hovering above run-a-ball.
It would have been a win made even sweeter owing to the absence of Wanindu Hasaranga, whose injury had put Kandy firmly in the position of underdogs ahead of the game. It was the latest injury to add to one’s suffered by Dushmantha Chameera and Isuru Udana.
“It’s really unfortunate our best player misses out on the biggest occasion. He singlehandedly brought us through to the finals after the first two losses,” Mathews had said at the toss. “We’ve had a lot of injuries, I can’t even count. I think the schedule also has been pretty hectic to be honest. We’re the only team that played three days in a row.”
In the end, Kandy used these setbacks as motivation to notch a win that will stand long in the memory of those involved.
Chaturanga stems the tide
Dhananjaya and Kusal Perera revive Dambulla
In his five previous outings, Kamindu had picked up a grand total of zero wickets and scored a cumulative 53 runs. He was unsurprisingly dropped for Kandy’s Eliminator triumph over Galle. But with Kandy losing both the batting and bowling prowess of Wanindu in this game, the Kandy skipper’s role was never going to be filled by just one player. So in came Kamindu to bolster the batting, while also offering some ambidextrous spin if needed. Opening alongside Mohammed Haris, he played his role to perfection, stitching together stands of 49 and 45 with Haris and Dinesh Chandimal on the way to a 37-ball 44. He fell with 54 still to get, but he ensured the bulk of the chase had been completed by that point.
Mathews and Asif see it home
Mathews came to the crease with the requirement 54 off 44 and eight wickets in hand. Worse collapses have taken place this LPL, but Mathews wasn’t about to add to that list. While the losses of Chandimal and Chaturanga in quick succession would leave some nerves jangling, Mathews and Asif Ali would ensure there would be no late Dambulla resurgence. Asif’s 19 off 10 included two fours and a six, but he would fall in the 19th over. Mathews though wouldn’t panic. With 15 required off the last 9, he would choose that moment to crack the second and third boundaries of his innings, and in the process ensure that the last over was straightforward as possible.