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Final (N), Colombo (RPS), August 20, 2023, Lanka Premier League
(19.5/20 ov, T:148) 151/5

Kandy won by 5 wickets (with 1 ball remaining)


Mathews ensures Kandy hold their nerve to take LPL title

Chaturanga de Silva put in a crucial spell with the ball then the top order all chipped in during the chase

Angelo Mathews guided his team to the title  •  Sri Lanka Cricket

Angelo Mathews guided his team to the title  •  Sri Lanka Cricket

B-Love Kandy 151 for 5 (K Mendis 44, Ahmad 3-27) beat Dambulla Aura 147 for 4 (Dhananjaya 40) by five wickets
B-Love Kandy overcame a spate of injuries and a demanding schedule - this was their second game in 24 hours - to be crowned champions of the fourth edition of the Lanka Premier League. Chasing 148 to win, they did so with one ball to spare.
That Dambulla Aura's Noor Ahmad, whose 3 for 27 came in an ultimately losing cause, would end top of ESPNcricinfo's MVP rankings speaks volumes. Angelo Mathews, who was adjudged Player of the Match, didn't even cut the top five. Indeed, this wasn't a final of great quality or attention-grabbing performances, rather it was won by the side that managed the big moments better.
And in that sense Mathews exemplified this, guiding home a straightforward chase that had suddenly had its tension levels ratcheted up at the death by the loss of a cluster of late wickets. His 21-ball 25 won't make any highlight reels, but the stand-in skipper was just the person you would have wanted at the crease with the game winding down, on a sticky wicket, and the requirement hovering above run-a-ball.
It would have been a win made even sweeter owing to the absence of Wanindu Hasaranga, whose injury had put Kandy firmly in the position of underdogs ahead of the game. It was the latest injury to add to one's suffered by Dushmantha Chameera and Isuru Udana.
"It's really unfortunate our best player misses out on the biggest occasion. He singlehandedly brought us through to the finals after the first two losses," Mathews had said at the toss. "We've had a lot of injuries, I can't even count. I think the schedule also has been pretty hectic to be honest. We're the only team that played three days in a row."
In the end, Kandy used these setbacks as motivation to notch a win that will stand long in the memory of those involved.

Sadeera sets the tone

Having lost the in-form Avishka Fernando in just the third over and that, too, following a circumspect start, Dambulla needed to counterpunch. That's exactly what Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama provided, racking up 57 runs in 47 deliveries. Sadeera in particular was impressive, taking on the spinners, at times going against the spin, to pick up runs when others might have folded. That his 36 came off 30, while his partner scored a 23-ball 22 speaks towards his positive approach.

Chaturanga stems the tide

While Hasaranga was undoubtedly the shining light of the season, it's not incorrect to say that elder brother Chaturanga de Silva was the brighter prospect at one point. Indeed, Wanindu himself says Chaturanga is the better allrounder - though the former's position at the top of both the batting and bowling charts this year might have permanently changed that perception. Nevertheless, the elder de Silva did his younger sibling proud taking out both set batters - Sadeera and Kusal - in the space of six deliveries, to reel his side back into a match that was in danger of quite quickly slipping away.

Dhananjaya and Kusal Perera revive Dambulla

Having two new batters at the crease midway through a T20 innings isn't ideal at the best of times, let alone having it take place on a sluggish surface that almost demands that a batter get their eye in before cutting loose. That though was the precise situation Kusal Perera and Dhananjaya de Silva found themselves in. But these are now two of Sri Lanka's older heads and they put all of that considerable experience to use. The first 22 balls of their partnership brought 15 runs, the next two nearly doubled that with a pair of sixes - in the process ending a period of 35 deliveries without a boundary. Their partnership would eventually account for 63 runs off just 46 balls and go a long way towards Dambulla being able to post a competitive score.

Kamindu comes in clutch

In his five previous outings, Kamindu had picked up a grand total of zero wickets and scored a cumulative 53 runs. He was unsurprisingly dropped for Kandy's Eliminator triumph over Galle. But with Kandy losing both the batting and bowling prowess of Wanindu in this game, the Kandy skipper's role was never going to be filled by just one player. So in came Kamindu to bolster the batting, while also offering some ambidextrous spin if needed. Opening alongside Mohammed Haris, he played his role to perfection, stitching together stands of 49 and 45 with Haris and Dinesh Chandimal on the way to a 37-ball 44. He fell with 54 still to get, but he ensured the bulk of the chase had been completed by that point.

Mathews and Asif see it home

Mathews came to the crease with the requirement 54 off 44 and eight wickets in hand. Worse collapses have taken place this LPL, but Mathews wasn't about to add to that list. While the losses of Chandimal and Chaturanga in quick succession would leave some nerves jangling, Mathews and Asif Ali would ensure there would be no late Dambulla resurgence. Asif's 19 off 10 included two fours and a six, but he would fall in the 19th over. Mathews though wouldn't panic. With 15 required off the last 9, he would choose that moment to crack the second and third boundaries of his innings, and in the process ensure that the last over was straightforward as possible.

Win Probability
BLK 100%
100%50%100%DBA InningsBLK Innings

Over 20 • BLK 151/5

Kandy won by 5 wickets (with 1 ball remaining)
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