Gunaratne, Silva set up the win after Chandimal shines with the bat
Janaka Gunaratne and Asanka Silva turned out to be the surprise bowling heroes for Ruhunu as the off-spin duo struck when it mattered most to help the team record an exciting, four-run win over Leicestershire Foxes in a Group ‘B' qualifying match of the Champions League T20 championship at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Wednesday night.
It was a wonderful display of sensible bowling as they stuck to the line and length, forcing the batsmen to make mistakes. And, Leicestershire obliged them consistently.
The only saving grace for Foxes was a flamboyant innings from Abdul Razzaq — who was dropped twice — which threatened, at one stage, to take the game away from the Sri Lankan outfit. But, once Gunaratne removed the Pakistani to make it 128 for five in 14.1 overs, the rest of the batsmen disappointed with irresponsible strokeplay.
Earlier, Sanath Jayasuriya failed to fire for the second match in-a-row but the much younger wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Chandimal, who has been picked for the Test series against Pakistan in UAE, demonstrated his growing potential with a classy mix of extravagance and elegance as Ruhunu, put in to bat, scored 160 for six in 20 overs.
The 42-year-old Jayasuriya, who played his trade-mark shot over extra-cover walking down the track off left-arm medium-pacer Harry Gurney, failed to resist the temptation to cut the next ball which was a slower one only to be bowled. Gurney soon sent back captain Mahela Udawatta who was induced to go for an ambitious pull but ended up giving a high return catch.
The Leicestershire attack, minus the injured captain Matthew Hoggard, was erratic at times conceding 16 wides in all, but got the wickets at regular intervals in the first half of the innings.
Off-spinner Jigar Naik, who opened the bowling, was unlucky to see wicket-keeper Paul Nixon miss a simple stumping chance off Chandimal when he was on six and it proved to be very costly.
Ruhunu: S. Jayasuriya b Gurney 6 (9b, 1x4), M. Udawatta c & b Gurney 2 (3b), D. Chandimal (not out) 62 (51b, 6x4, 2x6), K. Perara c Naik b Razzaq 19 (15b, 2x4, 1x6), J. Gunaratne c Nixon b Razzaq 1 (3b), M. Siliwardana c White b Henderson 17 (21 b, 1x4), S. Karunanayake c Razzaq b Gurney 28 (15b, 2x4, 2x6), T.M. Sampath (not out) 6 (3b, 1x6), Extras (b-1, lb-2, w-16) 19; Total (for six wickets in 20 overs) 160.
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-17, 3-47, 4-67, 5-111, 6-152.
Leicestershire Foxes bowling: Naik 3-0-22-0, Gurney 4-0-33-3, Razzaq 4-0-30-2, Henderson 4-0-29-1, White 4-0-34-0, McDonald 1-0-9-0.
Leicestershire Foxes: J. Cobb c Sampath b Janoda 15 (5b, 2x6), A. Razzaq c Chandimal b Gunaratne 68 (46b, 6x4, 2x6), A. McDonald st Chandimal b Silva 24 (15b, 3x4), W. Jefferson lbw b Silva 3 (4b), J. Taylor c Chandimal b Siriwardana 11 (11b, 1x4), P. Nixon b Gunaratne 3 (4b), W. White c K. Perera b Silva 3 (7b), J. du Toit c Karunanayake b Gunaratne 13 (13b, 1x4), C. Henderson (not out) 8 (11b), J. Naik (not out) 2 (2b), Extras (lb-3 w-3) 6; Total (for eight wickets in 20 overs) 156.
Fall of wickets: 1-31, 2-73, 3-81, 4-109, 5-128, 6-130, 7-134, 8-150.
Ruhunu bowling: Gunaratne 4-0-27-3, Jayasuriya 4-0-37-0, Janoda 2-0-22-1, Chinthaka Perera 2-0-15-0, Siriwardana 4-0-23-1, Silva 4-0-29-3.