Under the hangover of a third defeat to the Galle Gladiators a day ago was not the best of omens in this crunch play-off for the second finalist, but dare his willow to the clarion call did 23-year old Avishka Fernando in unleashing a sensational match winning 64-ball century in taking his side to the finals of the second edition of the Lanka Premier League 2021 by a 23-run triumph over the Dambulla Giants tonight in the play-off for the second finalist at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium.
The right-hander smashed his way to becoming the tournament’s first century maker highlighted by 4 sixes and 10 boundaries. It was a herculean feat that was to put the Jaffna Kings back in the ring for a decisive now or never fourth crack at their arch rivals, this time for the cup title big stakes come Thursday in the grand finale in what would be a repeat of the same finalists as in the first edition of the LPL.
The explosive opener won the day to the Player of the Match award, but the day as much belonged to Rahmanulla Gurbaz from Afghanistan who rose to the occasion striking a 40-ball 70 inclusive of 4 over the top and 5 to the ropes in sharing in a 122-run partnership for the first wicket with Fernando in a total of 210 for 4 after 20 overs.
The Dambulla Kings replied with 187 for 9 off 20 mainly due to the late flurry by Chamika Karunaratne who struck a 47-ball 75.
But Dambulla Giants were never in the game with the frontline batting coming apart against a tight Kings attack spearheaded by Jayden Seales who claimed 3 for 24. The next best contribution for Dambulla was by Phil Salt who made 22 off 11.