Sangakkara powers Kandurata to opening win
Kandurata Maroons 159 for 8 (Sangakkara 49, Tharanga 36, Dilruwan Perera 3-26) beat Ruhuna Reds 146 for 9 (Lanka 36, Prasad 3-21) by 13 runs
Kumar Sangakkara's ravishing international form continued into the second match of the Super Fours provincial Twenty20 tournament, as the Kandurata Maroons overcame the Ruhuna Reds by 13 runs. Sangakkara's 49 from 35 drove Kandurata's innings during the middle overs, before cameos from captain Lahiru Thirimanne and Nuwan Kulasekara lifted the total to 159 for 8. In reply, Yashodha Lanka and Angelo Perera embarked on innings that attempted to set their side back on course after early losses, but neither could muster a knock of enough substance to force a win.
Shehan Jayasuriya was starved of the strike while Upul Tharanga steered the Kandurata innings with a pair of off-side boundaries in the first three overs, and before Jayasuriya could kick his own innings into gear, he was run out for three.
Sangakkara then came to the crease, and if there were any thoughts that a lower-profile match would have dulled his hunger, Sangakkara lofted his third ball over cover, and did not allow his scoring rate to dip thereafter. A spate of singles followed that early boundary, as Tharanga struck two sixes off spin and then got out at the other end, but Sangakkara soon freed his arms as well, taking 14 runs off Kaushalya Weeraratne's 10th over, and found regular boundaries off the other bowlers as well.
He fell in the 15th over, top edging Dilruwan Perera as he attempted to slog-sweep against the turn, but his demise brought Thirimanne, who played the sort of innings that might encourage the national selectors that he can be persevered with in the shortest format. Thirimanne struck two fours - inside-out over cover and behind point - and a slog-swept six in his 14-ball 25. Kulasekara turned aggressor after Thirimanne fell, and took Kandurata to what was a daunting total on a slow track.
Tillakaratne Dilshan hit two boundaries off Kulasekara in the first over of Ruhuna's chase, but he was soon out nicking behind, and the struggling Kusal Perera handled domestic bowlers no better than he has played international attacks in the past two months. Two more quick wickets united Angelo Perera and Lanka, but their 41-run stand only promised revival instead of producing it. Some hard hitting at the death from Dilruwan Perera made the end result appear closer than the match had been.