Dambulla Viiking 157 for 5 (A Perera 67, Shanaka 33, Pradeep 1-16) beat Kandy Tuskers 156 for 6 (K Mendis 55, K Perera 41, Rajitha 2-16) by five wickets
Kandy Tuskers had significant top-order partnerships and never quite seemed like they were in trouble, but a total of 156 for 6 always seemed light. Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera both produced slow-burn innings - Mendis hitting 55 off 45, and Perera 41 off 34. But although they set a solid foundation - their 58-run partnership coming off 45 balls - Tuskers were slow through the middle overs, and the they failed to explode towards the close.
Only 55 runs came in the last seven overs of the innings, as Viiking's left-arm spinners - Samit Patel
and Malinda Pushpakumara
delivered cheap overs through this period. Although Asela Gunaratne and Kamindu Mendis struck the occasional boundary for Tuskers at the death, the target always seemed sub-par.
That is not to say Viiking cruised to victory. They lost Niroshan Dickwella in the first over of the chase, Upul Tharanga in the sixth over, and generally ambled through the powerplay, making just 42. Patel was out soon after, and after nine overs, the required rate had climbed to nine. But then Dasun Shanaka
- Viiking's best batsman so far - came to the crease, and Angelo Perera
combined to produce the definitive partnership of the game, hitting 79 off 48 balls in each other's company, to propel Viiking into dominance. They would both be out in quick succession, but Samiullah Shinwari and Anwar Ali took the chase home without much drama.
Angelo Perera, who had not been picked for the two first matches of the tournament, produced the kind of solid robust innings he has become renowned for on the domestic circuit. His 67 off 49 balls formed the spine of Viiking's chase, and featured three sixes and five fours. He was especially severe on legspinner Sekkuge Prasanna, whom he took for 19 off 10 balls, but he also scored rapidly off seamers Nuwan Pradeep and Munaf Patel.
Earlier, Viiking offspinner Ramesh Mendis had conceded only 21 runs off his four overs, while claiming the wicket of Kusal Perera. Kasun Rajitha and Pushpakumara were also excellent, taking two wickets apiece. Rajitha only gave away 16 from his three overs.
Angelo Perera had strolled to 21 off 23 balls to get himself going in this innings, but it was in the company of Shanaka that he first began to truly attack. He hit successive fours off the 11th over, bowled by Prasanna, before hitting a stylish six over deep square leg off Pradeep soon after. Shanaka, meanwhile, was confident right throughout those middle overs, rarely failing to latch on to a poor delivery.
The Tuskers' batting lacked intent in this match. This is the side that lost Chris Gayle in the week leading up to the tournament remember, so they are short one explosive batsman that they had counted on. But as well as Viiking bowled, too few big shots were attempted.