B Love Kandy Skipper Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva’s strong point is his ability to bat unfazed in bad situations which he executed to perfection on Saturday striking 48 off 30 in a flow of 4 over the top and 3 to the boundary lifted his side to the finals of the 2023 Lanka Premier League by a 34-run triumph over Galle Titansat the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium.
When he walked in with Kandy reeling on 3 for 20 meant one false stroke would well have put his side out given his virtual one-man show in making it that far from a lowly tournament start. And, Hasaranga did not disappoint as he turned the tide in that gloom in typical all-round Player of the Match drama taking Kandy to 157 for 7 off 20 and claiming 2 for 21 in choking Galle Titans to 128 for 8 to the throb of a roaring crowd heightened by the colourfully decked waving fans of either side and the illuminating cheer girls weaving to and fro.
His rescue act with the bat having survived a straightforward catch in the deep let off by Najibullah Zadran off the first over of his opposite number Dasun Shanaka, took Kandy to 54 without further loss in 8.4 overs as Hasaranga raced to 20 off 14 clouting a six and 2 boundaries and with one drop Dinesh Chandimal at the other end on 21 off 19 with 2 boundaries and 71 after the halfway mark with Hasaranga moving to 34 off 19 dramatising the tense second qualifier to a roaring crowd and the delight of Kandy fans. By the time the skipper exited Kandy was back in the game at 92 for 4 after 13.2 overs as Angelo Mathews continued the good work by a stroke filled 24 off 17 laced with a six and 2 boundaries in taking the side past the 150 mark into the final over before exiting in the fourth ball after Dinesh Chandimal was fifth out with the score 105 after 15.2 overs. A noteworthy factor in the triumph was the all-round effect brought to play by Chathuranga de Silva, elder brother of Hasaranga, who struck a run a ball unbeaten 15 and claimed 2 for 16.
Galle Titans at one stage was on an even keel on 73 for 3 after 11 overs, but lost their way precipitating to 93 for 7 off 15.1 with only newcomer Sonal Dinusha making a substantial 28 off 32 inclusive of a six to go with his wickets for 21 including the prize wicket of Hasaranga. Skipper Dasun Shanaka was a disappointment again falling for a poor stroke sweeping and mistiming a delivery from his opposite number Hasaranga to hand wicket-keeper Chandimal a lollypop catch running to his left.
The win will bring B Love Kandy in a face off against Dambulla Aura in today’s day-night finals at the same venue.
B Love Kandy 157/7 (20 Overs) Dinesh Chandimal 38, Wanindu Hasaranga 48, Angelo Mathews 24, Asif Ali 10, Chathuranga de Silva n.o. 15, Lahiru Madushanka n.o. 1, Lahiru Kumara 2/21, Sonal Dinusha 2/32, Shakib Al Hasan 1/24, Kasun Rajitha 1/27)
Galle Titans 123/8 (20 Overs)
(Litton Das 25, Shakib Al Hasan 17, 18 2, Sonal Dinusha 28, Kasun Rajitha n.o. 10, Lahiru Kumara n.o. 10, Mohammad Hasnain 2/8, Chathuranga de Silva 2/16, Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva 2/21, Sahan Arachchige 1/10, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 1/29)-