20-20 LPL 2ND SEMI-FINAL
By Srian Obeyesekere
That decisive semi-finals do thrive in low scoring humdingers was the showcasing high point of a battling second semi-final won by the Jaffna Stallions over the Dambulla Vikings by a decisive 37-run margin with the muscular West Indian import Johnson Charles, the hard hitting wicket-keeper batsman the Player of the Match deliverer with a 56-ball 76 in Monday’s deciding second finalist of the historic Lanka Premier League (LPL) at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium at Sooriyawewa, Hambantota. In a contest that Jaffna Stallions totaled a compatible165 for 9 off 20 overs before nailing the on paper more fancied 5 out of 6-match winners Dambulla Stallions for 128 in 19.1 overs in an all-round display accentuated by Wanidu Hasaranga’s 3 for 15 off 4 overs. Jaffna Stallions will meet Galle Gladiators in the showpiece Day-Night final on Wednesday, the 16th.
For a start, the Vikings gamble to putting the opposition to bat on winning the toss misfired. The Stallions top three batters got the side past the 100 mark. Openers Johnson, who plundered 10 boundaries and a six, and Avishka Fernando 39 off 26 swatting 4 sixes and 2 boundaries posted 68 off 8.3, and Johnson and Charith Asalanka just the 10 off 8 (1×6) adding 43 in topping the 100 mark 2 for 111 off 13 when the latter exited after which only No.7 Wanidu Hasaranga got into double figures – 14 off 15 (1×4) with the next 5 batsmen to fall including big guns skipper Thisara Perera (7), Shoaib Malik (1) and Dhananjaya de Silva (1), managing just the 20 between them as the Dambulla Vikings accounted for three run outs – Dhananjaya, Chathuranga de Silva (6) and Suranga Lakmal (5). Malinga Pushpakumara was the pick of the Vikings bowlers with 2 for 24.
But the Dambulla Vikings hopes were shattered early on losing Samit Patel (10) with the score 11 and Angelo Perera (5) reduced to 2 for 18 off 2.5 before Niroshan Dickwella (29 off 18, 5×4) and Upul Tharanga (33 off 39, 5×4) staged a recovery adding 44 for the third wicket. But that was as far as the Dambulla Vikings would get on roll as skipper Dasun Shanaka fell for 5 and reduced to 4 for 69 with only No.8 Ramesh Mendis (26 0ff 10, 4×4, 1×6) getting into double figures.
(Johnson Charles 76, Avishka Fernando 39, Wanidu Hasaranga 14, Charith Asalanka 10, Malinda Pushpakumara 22/24, Ramesh Mendis 1/10, Anwar Ali 1/27, Lahiru Kumara 1/30)
DAMBULLA VIKINGS 128 (19.1 Overs) RR: 6.70
(Upul Tharanga 33, Niroshan Dickwella 29, Ramesh Mendis 26, Samit Patel 10, Wanidu Hasaranga 3/15, Charith Asalanka 1/7, Suranga Lakmal 1/24, Duanne Oliver 1/35)