The Kandurata Warriors eked out a tense two-run win against Wayamba United to put one foot into the semi-finals of the SLPL, defending a total of 149 for 8 that had largely been the work of Australian Chris Lynn
. The Warriors lost wickets early, and continued to be pegged back towards the end, but Lynn's 80 from 51 deliveries carried his side to a competitive total, despite his team-mates managing only 57 from 69 balls between them.
Wayamba United were without their captain Mahela Jayawardene and their best bowler Akila Dananjaya, who were both rested with a semi-finals berth secured, and perhaps that was the difference for a team that had looked undefeatable in its first four matches. Abdul Razzak tried valiantly to haul in the Warriors total with a late 18-ball 36, but could not score the 15 runs required from Sohail Tanvir's final over to extend his side's winning streak.
The Warriors had stumbled to an abysmal start, with Sanath Jayasuriya having run Thilan Samaraweera out before losing his own wicket, before Lynn arrived at the crease at 14 for 3. He rebuilt steadily at first, aggressing only when the bad balls came, as he and Jeevantha Kulatunga set about lifting the Warriors out of the mire. The pair made 64 runs from 49 balls for the fourth wicket, but with the score moving at only around 6.5 runs an over, the Warriors looked set for a mediocre total, particularly when Thisara Perera, their batsman of the tournament so far, fell soon after Kulatunga had departed.
Lynn, though, continued to prosper without fuss, plugging away into an outfield slowed by heavy overnight rain, to collect the singles and twos. Having progressed to 41 from 36, he exploded in the 16th over. A six off Milinda Siriwardene over midwicket began the charge, before he hit a straight six and an improvised four to fine leg off Isuru Udana's next over. Bradd Hogg then disappeared for 16 too, but Lynn finally miscued one in the penultimate over, with his side knocking on a total of 150.
Tanvir should have had Kamran Akmal out twice in the first over, but an lbw shout that appeared to be plumb was denied, before Thisara Perera dropped a sitter in the in-field off a leading edge. He eventually got his man, off another leading edge at third man. And thanks to miserly support from John Hastings and Perera from the other end, the Warriors were able to deny Wayamba United the rapid starts they had achieved so far in the SLPL.
Kaushal Lokuarachchi's spell of 3 for 15 in the middle period then ensured the asking rate continued to climb. Mohammad Hafeez was caught in front attempting a reverse-sweep, before Shehan Jayasuriya and Dinesh Chandimal both gave easy catches soon after - though in Chandimal's case, he had already had two lives before his eventual dismissal.
Razzak and Siriwardene made 17 from the penultimate over to set up the first truly tight finish of the tournament. But with six runs required off the last ball to tie the match, Razzak could only manage four.