By Amindha de Alwis
A six-laden blitzkrieg by Avishka Fernando and Thisara Perera led Jaffna Kings to a 14-run win (DLS method) over Kandy Warriors in an adrenaline-filed seventh game of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) played at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Wednesday.
In a match reduced to 14-overs-a-side after a heavy downpour, Fernando and Perera pummeled the Kandy Warriors bowling to all parts in a jaw-dropping display of power hitting that saw their side amass 181 runs at a run rate of close to 13. The Warriors then nearly pulled off what looked an improbable chase, with Rovman Powell, Charith Asalanka and Kennar Lewis putting on an exhibition of their own only for their side to fall an agonising 14 runs short.
Jaffna Kings who were 17 for one in the third over of play when rain started to fall, sent captain Perera up the order to maximise the scoring rate.
Opener Fernando had been sedate till then, scoring just four runs off his first ten deliveries, but the introduction of Tillakaratne Sampath in the sixth over freed up the right-hander who went ahead and muscled the off-spinner for five thundering sixes over long-on and deep mid-wicket.
31 runs were scored off the over, making it the most expensive in the two editions of the LPL so far. Sampath’s efforts to mix it up with faster balls and even one leg-break were in vain as Fernando continued to deposit whatever was served up into the stands.
Perera joined the party soon afterwards, going after Kamindu Mendis and Powell, as Jaffna pummeled 19 and 25 off successive overs from the Warriors bowlers who were struggling to come to grips with the wet ball.
Fernando and Perera both brought up their individual fifties in the next over bowed by Al-Amin Hossain, both with powerful blows over the deep square-leg fence. Fernando’s half-century came off 21 balls and Perera’s off just 19.
The massacre was finally brought to an end in the 11th over when Kandy skipper Angelo Perera went back to UAE paceman Shiraz Ahmed who accounted for both the batsmen but not before the pair put on a century partnership off a mere 32 balls.
A few more swings to the boundary by Chathuranga De Silva was enough to push Jaffna all the way to a colossal 181 at the end of their 14 overs.
Shiraz Ahmed who finished with 3 for 22 off his three overs was the only Warriors bowler to walk away with creditable figures.
In pursuit of their target, Asalanka (42) made good use of the powerplay, taking judicious risks off Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga who opened the bowling as he played the dominant role in a 64-run opening stand with Lewis. The scale of the Kandy Warriors’ task was such, however, that despite the partnership coming at 10.5 runs an over, the required rate had already shot up to almost 15.
Rovman Powell came in at number three and played some scintillating strokes including a full-blooded launch of Suranga Lakmal over the extra-cover boundary and with the struggling Lewis finally finding his timing in a 22-run take-down of Jayden Seales in the tenth over, Kandy started to believe.
Hasaranga was brought back in to put an end to the partnership but Powell took to him too, storming to his half-century off 15 balls with two monstrous slogs over the leg-side.
The equation had dropped to 38 runs off the final three overs but Suranga Lakmal delivered an inch-perfect yorker to send Powell’s leg-stump flying. His dismissal for 61 off just 19 deliveries once again turned things in Jaffna’s favour and the equation proved too much for the incoming batsmen to handle as Thisara Perera’s side ended an entertaining evening with their second win of the tournament.
As for Kandy Warriors, 166 in 14 overs would have been incredible on any other day, but yesterday, it just wasn’t enough and sent them to their third straight defeat of the LPL.