Dasun Shanaka, spinners star as Dambulla Viiking topple Colombo Kings
Udana, Russell three-wicket hauls in vain for Angelo Mathews' side
Dambulla Viiking 175 for 9 (Shanaka 56, Patel 30, Russell 3-18, Udana 3-25) beat Colombo Kings 147 (Evans 59, Anwar Ali 2-10, Pushpakumara 2-19) by 28 runs
How the game played out
The Dambulla Viiking served up the first real outstanding bowling performance of the LPL, as their army of spinners utterly neutralised the big-hitting Colombo Kings on their way to an impressive 28-run win.
Each of the six bowlers used by the Viiking picked up a wicket, though the standouts were undoubtedly the spin contingent of Samit Patel, Malinda Pushpakumara, Sachindu Colombage and Pulina Tharanga, who picked up seven wickets amongst them.
The latter two had been drafted in as part of four changes, alongside Anwar Ali and Angelo Perera, from the team that had lost to the Jaffna Stallions less than 24 hours prior. Out went Ramesh Mendis and the pace trio of Lahiru Kumara, Lahiru Madushanka and Aftab Alam - the latter, in fact, might've been rather aggrieved considering his excellent display with the ball the previous night.
But the Viiking clearly had a plan, as the spinners throttled a Kings line-up containing the likes of Andre Russell and Isuru Udana, as no Kings batsman, aside from Laurie Evans who hit a 33-ball 59, managed to score more than 20 runs. Incredibly, No.10 Dushmantha Chameera was the second-highest scorer in the innings with 17.
At the halfway mark, though, the Kings would have fancied their chances, having limited the Viiking to 175 for 9. That the Viiking had even got so much was largely down to their captain Dasun Shanaka, who once again was required to deal with a top-order collapse after both Niroshan Dickwella and Paul Stirling fell cheaply.
Stars of the day
Early wickets followed by a middle-order recovery is starting to be a Viiking template of sorts this LPL, and lucky for them they have one of the tournament's in-form batsman in Shanaka to help them execute it. For the third time in as many games, Shanaka was required to undertake the bulk of Viiking scoring responsibility, and he happily obliged - aided by cameos from Upul Tharanga, Patel and Perera - on his way to a 34-ball 56.
Pushpakumara has toiled in the domestic circuit for pretty much his entire career with barely a sniff of Sri Lanka's national side - mainly thanks to the longevity of a certain Rangana Herath. However, today he showed why he's picked up nearly 800 first-class wickets, as he showcased his game nous and guile, expertly varying his pace and trajectory on his way to figures of 2 for 19, including the scalp of the dangerous Udana.
In the Kings' opening game Udana showed his game-changing qualities with the bat, today he turned up with the ball. Ending with figures of 3 for 25, his four overs were full of subtle variations, while time and again proving to be the man Angelo Mathews turns to when he needs a breakthrough. While in the end his efforts were in vain, he along with Russell managed to stifle Shanaka just as the Viiking captain would have been looking to unleash.
There's a reason why the Kings were favourites at the halfway mark - that reason is Russell. Enter 22 year-old Colombage, with just 14 List A games to his name. The young legspinner ended with figures of 1 for 28 after three overs, but he'll not soon forget the feeling of having Dre Russ caught in the deep. It was at this point the Viiking players would have genuinely started to feel the game was within their reach.
Where the teams stand
For the Kings this is a first loss, and possibly a reality-check after an unblemished record over their first two games. But for the Viiking this win was rather more important, and will help erase the memories of the bowling disaster-class against Thisara Perera the previous night. Both teams are on four points now, alongside the Stallions, who have played a game less.