Janaka Gunaratne and Asanka Silva scalped three wickets each as Ruhunu Eleven defeated Leicestershire Foxes by four runs in a nail-biting finish to keep their hopes of qualifying for Champions League Twenty20 main round alive here today.
Riding on Dinesh Chandimal’s strokeful 51-ball 62, Ruhunu set a competitive total of 160 for six after being asked to bat and then restricted Leicestershire to 156 for eight at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
Veteran Pakistani Abdul Razzaq fought a lone battle for Leicestershire, hitting a superb 68 off 46 balls, studded with six fours and two sixes, even as wickets kept falling at regular intervals at the other end.
Though Leicestershire batsmen managed to come near the target but the Ruhunu bowlers had the last laugh.
Ruhunu had lost to Trinidad and Tobago in their first match on Monday.
Chasing 161 for a victory, Leicestershire made a strong start and looked like getting there as they brought up 81 for two in nine overs. But some sensible bowling and quick wickets by Ruhunu bowlers ended the England outfit’s hopes.
Openers - Joshua Cobbs (15) and Razzaq - gave the Foxes a flying start. The pair took the team to 31 in 2.2 overs before Janoda removed the former. But that did not stop the Foxes run-riot as Razzaq and captain Andrew McDonald continued sending the opponent bowlers on a leather hunt.
McDonald hit three fours during his quickfire 24-run knock off 15 balls before Chandimal stumped him off the bowling of Silva.
Silva went on to add another wicket to his kitty in his very next over by removing Will Jefferson (3) to give a ray of hope to Ruhunu.
While Razzaq continued to hit the ball all around the park and brought up a quick half-century, wickets kept falling at the other end.
After Razzaq got out, it became difficult for Leicestershire to accelerate but Jacques du Toit (13) and Claude Henderson (8 not out) gave a tough fight.
Earlier, Ruhunu openers Sanath Jayasuriya (6) and skipper Mahela Udawatte (2) got off to a disastrous start as they lost the first two wickets for 17 runs in 3.1 overs as Harry Gurney sent both the batsmen back in his first two overs.
Chandimal and Kushal Janith Parera, then joined hands to steady the boat. To begin with, Parera was the more dominant of the two as he managed to set the rhythm with a six and a four off one of Naik’s overs.
But his brief cameo of 15-ball 19 came to an end when Jigar Naik caught him off the bowling off Abdul Razzaq. Razzaq struck once again in his next over as he sent the new batsman Janaka Gunaratne (1) packing as well.
However Chandimal, who got a life at seven when Nixon missed a stumping chance off Naik’s bowling, held his ground and hit the loose balls that came his way.
Mixing cautious with aggression, Chandimal in the able company of Siriwardana (17) added 44-odd runs to the total.
After Siriwardana departed, Chandimal continued to frustrate the Leicestershire bowlers along with Karunanayake and brought up his half-century in 45 balls, setting the path for a good total.
For Leicestershire, Harry Gurney (three for 33) was the pick of the bowlers while Abdul Razzaq (two for 30) and Claude Henderson (one for 29) also contributed to the team’s cause.
Keywords: Champions League Twenty20