Super T20: Kusal Mendis impresses as Troopers fall to first defeat

Saturday, 30 January 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Madushka Balasuriya

The Super T20 Provincial Tournament returned yesterday following the first rest day on Thursday with the Hambantota Troopers suffering their first defeat, while the Colombo Commandos returned to winning ways.

In the day’s first game, the Troopers took on the Kurunegala Warriors, where the Warriors, as has almost become custom now, won the toss and elected to field. Seekkuge Prasanna continued his fine form scoring a quick-fire 35 off 23 deliveries, but after being run out in the 7th over with the score on 65, the Troopers never managed to maintain their lofty scoring rate. Ashan Priyanjan’s 41-ball 64 was a lone light as wickets tumbled around him and the Troopers limped to an about par 144/7.

The Warriors in response never seemed to get going in their chase with Asela Gunaratne’s 43-ball 47 seemingly keeping the innings from falling apart, however a blitzkrieg knock from Kusal Mendis of 35 from 16 balls (sixes x 4) carried the Warriors over the finish line with a full over to spare.

In the evening fixture, the Kandy Crusaders won the toss and unsurprisingly chose to put the Commandos into bat. The Crusaders came into the game yet to register a point but got off to the perfect start, as Sachithra Senanayake dismissed Niroshan Dickwella caught & bowled for a duck. Senanayake went on to capture exceptional match figures of 3/15 in his four overs. However all his good work was undone by the fast bowling department: Dilhara Fernando, Suranga Lakmal and Thisara Perera went for 121 runs collectively in their 10 overs, picking up just one wicket among them. Chief destroyer for the Commandos was Dhananjaya de Silva, scoring a not-out 80 off 59 balls. A late 12-ball 31 from Dasun Shanaka polished off the innings taking the Commandos to an imposing 182/5.

The Crusaders in their reply lost wickets at regular intervals, but paradoxically, still managed to keep the run rate around the required figure. Tillakaratne Sampath (32), Lahiru Thirimanne (37), Angelo Perera (24) and Thisara Perera (32) all made starts but couldn’t carry on. These dismissals eventually proved telling as the required rate ballooned and even a late 32-run 7th wicket partnership off just 16 balls between Ajantha Mendis and Minod Bhanuka wasn’t enough as they fell 9 runs short on 173/6.

The results leave the Troopers and the Commandos tied at the top on 4 points, having played three games each. The Guardians and the Warriors are on 2 points apiece having played two games, while the Crusaders are still to get off the mark, having also played two games. Today will see the Galle Guardians take on the Kandy Crusaders at 10am, while the 2pm fixture will see Kurunegala Warriors take on The Colombo Commandos.