An all-round performance by SLC Red scripted a commanding 6-wicket win over SLC Grey in the opening match of the SLC Invitational T20 League played at RPS, Colombo yesterday.
After being put into bat, Grey’s were off to a horrible start with their opener Thanuka Dabare (5) sent back to the pavilion in the 2nd over to put early pressure on the team.
Sangeeth Cooray then came to the crease and was off to the mark with a welcome boundary off the first ball he faced. However, Asitha Fernando had the last laugh as he picked up Sangeeth’s wicket in the very next ball to shell shock the Grey’s camp.
After two quick wickets, the Grey team never recovered and kept losing wickets, including that of skipper Ashan Priyanjan (4) and wicket keeper batter Minod Bhanuka (2).
With Grey’s reeling at 4-29, Ashan Randika looked to build their innings with a 23 ball 20 runs, but Maheesh Theekshana was up to the task and got the breakthrough to send Ashan back in the 9th over to put more pressure on the Grey’s.
With 10 overs done and dusted, Muditha Lakshan and Movin Subasinghe revived their innings to a certain extent with a 51 run partnership for the 6th wicket.
Movin top scored with a fighting 32 off 25 deliveries including a boundary and 2 sixes, while Muditha played an anchor role with a watchful 24 runs off 35 deliveries until Matheesha Pathirana got the breakthrough to send Muditha back to the pavilion.
With Movin still at the crease there was always hope of a few quick runs in the death overs, but brilliant bowling effort from the Red’s denied all chances to free the Grey team batters arms and they were restricted to a below par total of 120-9 at the end of the 20 overs.
Asitha Fernando was the architect of their collapse with 4-22. He claimed the all-important wickets of top order batters of Thanuka Dabare, Sangeeth Cooray, Ashan Priyanjan and Akila Dananajaya.
Apart from Asitha, IPL buddies Maheesh Theekshana and Matheesha Pathirana shared two wickets apiece. The man with the golden arm, Wanindu Hasaranga, went wicketless.
In reply, it was a walk in the park for Kusal Mendis led Red’s as they achieved the target in just 16.5 overs. Lasith Croospulle along with skipper Kusal Mendis opened the batting for Reds and they were off to a flyer with a 81 run partnership to virtually seal the match.
Lasith Croospulle (54) was the hero with the bat as he notched up the first half century of the tournament, while Kusal Mendis continuing his good form went onto score 34 runs off 30 deliveries to put up a strong foundation to their innings.
Croospulle was the first wicket to fall courtesy a brilliant fielding effort from Lakshan which saw him run out, and in the very next over his partner Kusal Mendis also threw his wicket away when he was stumped off Akila Dananjaya’s bowling.
With less than 20 runs required, Reds had some nerve tingling moments when they lost the wicket of Bhanuka Rajapaksa (4) and Kamindu Mendis (15).
However, Sahan Arachchige (2*) and Wanindu Hasaranga (4*) ensured there were no further hiccups as the duo took their team home with 19 balls to spare.
SLC Grey: 120-9 (20) (Movin Subasinghe 32, Muditha Lakshan 34, Asitha Fernando 4-22)
SLC Red: 121-4 (16.5) (Lasith Croospulle 54, Kusal Mendis 34, Akila Dananjaya 2-36)
By Mustaq Sydeen