Seekkuge Prasanna spun a canny spell that reaped four for 19, as the Ruhuna Royals suffered their second failed chase in two nights, succumbing by 14 runs to Uva Next.
Wahab Riaz injected late excitement, after the Royals’ appeared to have run aground at 119 for 8 from 18.1 overs, in pursuit of 156. But despite a first-ball 6 and three wides, 30 from the final over was never likely to be hauled in, particularly with Lasith Malinga for company at the other end. Andrew McDonald also contributed a miserly spell of 2 for 16, having already made 28 from 14 at the tail-end of Uva Next’s innings.
The openers had already been dismissed before Prasanna’s introduction, but in two overs, he’d struck thrice and effectively derailed the chase. The Pallekele pitch offered more grip and bounce than on previous evenings, and it was the latter that defeated Aaron Finch as he top-edged a cut into the keeper’s gloves off Prasanna’s second ball. The googly accounted for Lahiru Thirimanne two balls later, as he shaped to pull the legbreak, but could only lob it back to the bowler when the ball spun the other way.
Prasanna continued to mix his variations cleverly, and was only sent to the ropes twice. Both times, he dismissed the assailant next ball. The Royals attempted to hit out several times, but with Prasanna and McDonald giving them few bad balls at either end, boundaries were not forthcoming, and the run rate flagged while wickets fell.
Uva Next had progressed slowly for much of their innings, but they did it with wickets in hand, and when the crescendo came, it proved adequately forceful to set a challenging total. Upul Tharanga was the innings’ anchor, as he collected a 40-ball 48 that showcased an array of easy offside drives once more. He went at close to a run a ball to begin with, but gathered speed towards the middle with three fours in four balls off Wahab Riaz.
Shoaib Malik combined with Tharanga for a measured 58-run stand, but when both batsmen fell within three overs, McDonald’s cameo provided the late acceleration, lifting Uva Next to 155 for 4.