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August 30, 2012
Uva Next captain Thilina Kandamby has said his bowlers' return to fitness will give his side the edge in the SLPL final against Nagenahira Nagas on Friday. Uva have had to do without Dilhara Fernando since their third match, while Umar Gul, Andrew McDonald and Jacob Oram have also had injury concerns during the tournament. They are all expected to be refreshed and fit for the final however, and Kandamby said the team's gameplan will revolve around their bowling strength.
"If we can score around 150, that will be a very good total because now we have the frontline bowlers in hand and we can get away from them," Kandamby said. "Throughout the tournament we have had the best bowling attack. When they are all firing, they can take wickets and make things very difficult for the other team."
Fernando had been the leading wicket-taker in the tournament before picking up a back injury, and still holds the best SLPL match figures, with his haul of 5 for 17 against Basnahira Cricket Dundee. In the past he has been wayward upon return from injury, but Kandamby believed Fernando would be a vital cog in Uva's pace battery for the final.
"Dilhara was about 90% fit for the semis, but we didn't want to take a chance. He bowled very well for us at the start of the tournament, so I think he's experienced enough to lift his game for the final," Kandamby said.
In Fernando's absence, Oram has been among the wickets for Uva, with ten to his name from five matches, placing him one behind the tournament leaders. He also has been extremely difficult to get away, having conceded only 75 runs from 19 overs to lead the league with an economy rate of 3.94. Oram's brutal 41 from 17 balls and 3 for 16 paved Uva's way into the final, when they defeated tournament leaders Wayamba United on Tuesday night.
"He's been in fantastic form, both from a batting and bowling perspective. I don't think he gets the new ball much when he plays for New Zealand. We've given him the new ball here and he has become a totally different bowler," Kandamby said.
With Colombo having had three days of heavy rain, forcing a washout in the second semi-final, and thunderstorms forecast for Friday, the final may be curtailed by rain. Kandamby was confident his side had the batting firepower to prevail in a shortened encounter, should that eventuate.
"We have guys like Dilshan Munaweera and [Oram] who have already shown what they can do. Other guys like Chinthaka Jayasinghe are well known for big hitting. We'll have to decide if we move anyone up the order when we see how many overs we have to play with."
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri LankaFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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