In the last league stage encounter of LPL Season 3, Galle Gladiators and Dambulla Aura took the field with the hopes of bagging the final playoff spot. For Aura, it was a race against the net run rate of the Gladiators as they had a better number.
Gladiators Captain Kusal Mendis, who won the toss, decided to bat first in this all-important encounter. The decision to bat first seemed to not be working for the Southern army as they lost 4 wickets inside the first 10 overs. Azam Khan and Nuwanidu Fernando tried to absorb the pressure and bring some life back into the Gladiators, but fell too far behind the scoring rate as it dipped below 5 runs per over.
After the 5th wicket partnership of 31 ended, the situation worsened for the Gladiators as wickets fell in a hurry once again. With Fernando being the only recognized batter, it looked like a score above 120 seemed impossible for them.
However, Aura Captain Sikander Raza’s decision to bowl himself in the last over when Pramod Madushan had overs left, proved to be costly, as Fernando punished him for a hat trick of fours and then a duo of sixes to score 25 runs. Fernando, who was on 38 of 36, finished with 63 from 42, one of his best knocks in the format up to date.
For Aura, Matthew Forde bowled an exceptional spell, taking 4 for 11 in his 4 overs, where he conceded just one four and bowled 16 dot deliveries. Noor Ahmad also bowled an economical spell, taking 1 for 17, and the likes of Lahiru Madushanka, Dilum Sudeera and Sikander Raza took one wicket each.
Although the target was just 130, Aura now needed to chase it down in 11.1 to qualify for the playoffs. With a steep mountain to climb, the Aura openers needed something special from their batters. The Gladiators bowled their two best pacers Nuwan Thushara and Wahab Riaz for the first 8 overs, which proved to be a good move as the Aura batters failed to score runs in the required rate against them.
Aura gave all-rounder Forde a promotion in the batting order and he managed to construct a 79-run stand for the 3rd wicket with Jordan Cox in just 41 balls. Cox got out after scoring 34 in 21, and Aura needed 41 runs in 12 balls after the end of that partnership – they failed to get the job done as Forde also fell for a well-made 52 shortly after.
With the chance of qualifying for the playoffs done and dusted, Aura reached their target in 14.2 overs after losing 6 wickets. For the Gladiators, Imad Wasim bowled at a crucial juncture in the game and took 2 vital wickets to end with 2 for 26, while Nuwan Thushara picked 2 wickets for 42.
With this result, the Eliminator in the playoffs is locked between Galle Gladiators and Colombo, Stars while the First Qualifier will be between the table toppers – the Kandy Falcons – and second place holders – the Jaffna Kings.
|Thanuka Dabare||c Lahiru Madushanka b Matthew Forde||7||12||1||0||58.33|
|Kusal Mendis||c Sikandar Raza b Matthew Forde||17||15||2||0||113.33|
|Oshada Fernando||lbw b Matthew Forde||0||1||0||0||0.00|
|Asad Shafiq||c Matthew Forde b Lahiru Madushanka||6||8||1||0||75.00|
|Azam Khan||b Dilum Sudeera||15||21||0||1||71.43|
|Nuwanidu Fernando||not out||63||42||3||5||150.00|
|Imad Wasim||c Sikandar Raza b Noor Ahmad||3||7||0||0||42.86|
|Nimesh Vimukthi||lbw b Sikandar Raza||5||5||0||0||100.00|
|Wahab Riaz||c Dilum Sudeera b Matthew Forde||3||4||0||0||75.00|
|Nipun Malinga||not out||3||6||0||0||50.00|
|Extras||7 (b 0 , lb 4 , nb 1, w 2, pen 0)|
|Total||129/8 (20 Overs, RR: 6.45)|
|Shevon Daniel||b Nuwan Thushara||2||4||0||0||50.00|
|Jordan Cox||c & b Nimesh Vimukthi||34||21||3||2||161.90|
|Lasith Croospulle||c Nimesh Vimukthi b Nuwan Thushara||4||4||1||0||100.00|
|Matthew Forde||run out (Azam Khan)||52||30||6||2||173.33|
|Sikandar Raza||c Thanuka Dabare b Imad Wasim||17||7||0||2||242.86|
|Lahiru Madushanka||not out||10||10||0||0||100.00|
|Chamindu Wickramasinghe||c Nuwan Thushara b Imad Wasim||2||5||0||0||40.00|
|Sachitha Jayathilake||not out||7||5||0||1||140.00|
|Extras||6 (b 0 , lb 2 , nb 0, w 4, pen 0)|
|Total||134/6 (14.2 Overs, RR: 9.35)|