Must win crunch matches are literally about showdowns of the survival of the fittest, and Dambulla Giants indeed met the ultimate test of strength to brushing aside Colombo Stars clinically by 6 wickets with 7 balls to spare in the eliminator to sweeping to the final of the Lanka Premier League 2021 in tonight’s first play off at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium at Sooriyawewa, Hambantota.
The upswing to it was highlighted by by Dasun Shanaka’s team holding their nerve to overcoming the first ball dismissal of Niroshan Dickwella, caught and bowled by Dushmantha Chameera.
The day belonged to the 26-year old right-hander Janith Liyanage who played the innings of his life – a masterly unbeaten 56 off 47 balls inclusive of 5 boundaries.
Liyanage, shared in a 48-run third-wicket partnership with Phil Salt who was a cushioning atom stroking 32 off 21 with 4 fours and a six, and 68 for the fourth-wicket with Najibullah Zadran 34 off 28 tucked with 2 sixes and a four.
Colombo Stars might well be ruing the gamble of promoting Seekuge Prasanna to bat at No. 6 misfiring after Skipper Angelo Mathews with an unbeaten 34-ball 50 with 4 fours and 2 sixes had set up the tempo with Pathum Nissanka chipping in with 42 off 39 with 4 fours. Prassanna’s promotion up the order over the experienced Dinesh Chandimal, the tourmament highest scorer, proved to be costly with the pinch-hitting hero of a few days ago managing just 7 off 11. It cost Colombo quite some runs with Chandimal consequently coming in the penultimate over of the innings which was finally bolstered by a six and four by No.7 Karim Janat, the Afghanistan import.
For a player tapping on the door for national recognition from the shadows of some telling domestic performances who made it count in his first big stage show to hog the Player of the Match glow, Janith Liyanage has certainly served his dream cause well.