In a battle of high drama Colombo Stars bulldozed into the final of the Lanka Premier League 2022 triggered by Kasun Rajitha’s Player of the Match 4 for 20 with Charith Asalanka blazing 64 off 40 spoiling Kandy Falcons skipper Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva’s 34-ball 77-run blitzkrieg going down to the wire with the Stars Ravi Bopara 29 off 16 and skipper Angelo Mathews 21 off 13 unleashing the final assault in an unfinished 45-run dash off 25 balls winning Thursday’s Night qualifier by 6 wickets with 11 balls to spare at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium.
In a contest filled with all the see sawing action befitting the final canter between two sides striving to set up a final against the Jaffna Kings on Sunday, the Kandy Falcons was bailed out of the gloom of 42 for 3 in 8 overs by a truly magical captain’s innings by Wanindu Hasaranga who smote 8 boundaries and 3 sixes in adding 92 for the fourth wicket with Ashen Bandara 40 off 42 who plugged one end after being put into bat by the Colombo Stars to totalling a handsome 168 fo 6 off 20. It was a great rear guard assault mounted by Hasaranga when the chips were down following the Colombo Stars strike bowler Kasun Rajitha’s early breakthroughs when he got rid of both openers in the space of two balls – Pathum Nissanka and Andre Fletcher both leg before wicket for 2 and a duck. Rajitha, in a continuation of his fine form with the ball in his last few outings including the 2 for 9 in defeating the Galle Gladiators the previous day, came back to break the partnership by having Bandara caught by Howell and completed his second double strike in an over by bowling Fabian Allen for a duck with the very next delivery with the Falcons 134 for 5 after 17.2 overs. But Hasaranga went on with gay abandon in getting his side to a defendable score.
Colombo Stars suffered the early setback of losing Nishan Madushka for 11 with the score 12 after the second over, but Charith Asalanka joined Dinesh Chandimal in steadying the innings adding an invaluable 90 for the second wicket. Chandimal made 38 off 33 with 3 boundaries and a six and was bowled by Kamindu Mendis leaving Colombo Stars on 103 for 2 after 12.3 overs. Asalanka was not long after run out making it 120 for 3 and the fourth wicket that of Dominic Drakes fell 4 runs later when Bopara and Mathews brought the game alive as the Stars closed on 45 needed from 25 as Mathews struck his opposite number for two sixes after Bopara had sent the third delivery over the top. He went on to hit successive boundaries off Fabian Allen including the winning shot off the fifth ball of the 18th over as Colombo Stars admirably braved the odds of coming from behind winning back to back matches to storming into the final.
CHIEF SCORES: Kandy Falcons 168/6 (20 Overs) (Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva n.o. 77, Ashen Bandara 40, Kamindu Mendis 23, Carlos Braithwaite n.o. 15, Kasun Rajitha 4/20, Dominic Drakes 1/32) Colombo Stars 169/4 (18.5 Overs) (Charith Asalanka 64, Dinesh Chandimal 38, Ravi Bopara n.o. 25, Angelo Mathews n.o. 21, Nishan Madushka 11, Kamindu Mendis 2/26, Carlos Braithwaite 1/31)