Thisara Perera's whirlwind 97 blows Dambulla Viiking away

He rescued Jaffna Stallions from 64 for 5 to set up a 66-run win

Thisara Perera struck a rapid half-century, Dambulla Viiking v Jaffna Stallions, Hambantota, LPL 2020, November 30, 2020

Thisara Perera struck a rapid half-century  •  LPL

How the game played out
Thisara Perera, seemingly possessed by the spirit of Andre Russell, transformed an ailing Jaffna Stallions innings into a truly imposing one, with an awesome exhibition of power hitting, as his team secured an ultimately comfortable win to remain unbeaten in the LPL.
Chasing 219 on most days is a tall ask, but it becomes downright daunting when it follows an innings as demoralising and deflating as the one Perera produced.
In what was his best-ever T20 score, and the second-highest by a No.7 batsman in T20 cricket (highest is, unsurprisingly, by Andre Russell), the raw numbers - 97 runs off 44 deliveries, including eight fours and seven sixes, at a strike-rate of 220 - only tell part of the story.
After all, the day had started so well for the Viiking. On a flat track, they had won the toss, chosen to field, and then utilised their bowling options to great effect, with five different bowlers keeping the Stallions to 40 for 4 inside the powerplay - the lowest powerplay total of the tournament. During this period, each of Lahiru Kumara, Ramesh Mendis, Anwar Ali and Samit Patel had struck in the first over of their opening spells. Life was good.
By the time Perera came to the crease, the Stallions were in an even more precarious position - 64 for 5 midway through the ninth over. But that's where the good times end; in the final 10 overs, the Stallions would ransack 147 runs, with Perera responsible for 94 of them.
Even as late as the 19th over, with the score on 172 for 7, the Viiking might have imagined a target under 200 - more than they would have liked, sure, but still doable - only for Perera to plunder 30 more off Kumara. The 18 runs off the final over was just overkill, as were the two wickets he would pick up later.
The Viiking would respond with 152, a total which in another universe - one where Perera had an off-day, or wasn't born - might have won them the game.
Stars of the day
Thisara Perera has long frustrated Sri Lankan fans with his inconsistent ways, but when he's on song there are few batsmen in world cricket more destructive - which is why it's probably not the best idea to repeatedly pitch the ball straight, full and in the slot.
The Viiking, who had done exceptionally well to nullify a strong Stallions top order, undid that work in equally exceptional fashion as they repeatedly tried and failed at executing yorkers. The mere fact that if you took away Perera's runs from every part of the ground, aside from in front of the wicket, he would still end up with 56, tells its own story.
Aside from Perera, Usman Shinwari also deserves a mention for his four overs that produced three wickets for 16 runs - a spell which tweaked the difficulty slider on an already tough task.
Turning point
Thisara waking up on the right side of the bed.
The big miss
The inability of the Viiking bowlers to hit their marks at the death proved costly, but Dasun Shanaka might look back ruefully at his decision not to bowl out Aftab Alam, the only one of his seamers that was executing his yorkers with some degree of consistency.
Patel, too, could have been an option in the latter overs, when it became clear Perera had got his eye in against pace. Paul Stirling, a more than decent off-break option in his own right, meanwhile did not get a bowl.