Tillakaratne Sampath was a last-minute addition to the Southern Express squad, replacing his brother Tillakaratne Dilshan. Some of the familial similarities were on display during his innings of 18 in his first game of the tournament, especially a sweep in the fourth over that was reminiscent of Dilshan.
In the fourth over of the Express innings, Aizaz Cheema found himself in a familiar position - he had dismissed Kusal Perera and Danushka Gunathilaka off successive balls. It was the third time in the tournament that Cheema was on a hat-trick but there was no luck for him in this game, too, as Jehan Mubarak let the ball pass safely to the keeper.
Three quick strikes in the middle of the innings had curbed the Lions scoring rate, but with the last five overs looming they needed a quick push. It came from their captain Mohammad Hafeez, who smacked 22 runs off the first four balls of the 16th over bowled by Seekkuge Prasanna. First, he hit a four through deep midwicket before dancing out of the crease to smack three sixes down the ground. By the end of the over, Hafeez had moved from 15 off 24 balls to 38 off 29.
Ahmed Shehzad had hit some powerful shots in his brief innings of 29 but he would want to forget the shot that got him out. Ferveez Maharoof's delivery was almost a wide outside off stump but Shehzad walked across and manoeuvred it to the fielder at short fine leg, ending what seemed to be a promising knock.