Ruhunu put it past Leicestershire

Ruhunu put it past Leicestershire

Unbeaten half-century from Chandimal powers Lankans in high-scoring encounter

Ruhunu’s Dinesh Chandimal smashes one down the ground during his fiery 62-run knock. APLeicestershire did the running for three-quarters of both innings but failed to apply the finishing touches as Ruhunu pulled off an exciting four-run victory in the final Pool B match. The Sri Lankan champions, however, had to wait an agonising four hours to find out if they had made the main draw.

For the first time in the competition, a captain winning the toss opted to field first. Andrew McDonald, standing in for the injured Matthew Hoggard, based his decision on the need for Leicestershire to knock off the runs quickly so as to compensate for the previous evening’s drubbing at the hands of Trinidad & Tobago, but in going for the runs, the English champions failed to achieve even their first objective.

 Ruhunu’s stop-start 160 for six was built around a second straight half-century by Dinesh Chandimal (62 n.o., 51b, 6x4, 2x6), celebrating his call-up to the Lankan Test team with a pleasing compilation. Leicestershire went hell for leather and looked on course for a commanding victory with Abdul Razzaq (68, 46b, 6x4, 2x6) firing on all cylinders, but once the Pakistani all-rounder was fifth man dismissed with 33 needed in 36 deliveries, they were stifled by the spinners and finished on a lame 156 for eight.

Razzaq’s promotion to the top of the tree was indicative of Leicestershire’s approach. The right-hander didn’t disappoint as he and Josh Cobb got the team off to a flier. 31 came in just 15 deliveries, and McDonald and Razzaq added a further 42 in 30 as the Power Play overs yielded 64.

Ruhunu had packed their side with spinners -- 16 overs were sent down by the slower bowlers -- and Alanka Silva, brought in for Amal Athulathmudali, did the mid-innings damage with his mix of off-spinners and a clever doosra. Even as Razzaq was flying, the rest were floundering; the Pakistani led a charmed existence, dropped on 53 and 65, but eventually fell trying one stroke too many against Janaka Gunaratne’s off-spin.

Gunaratne then picked up two more so that the equation stood at 15 from 12 deliveries. Ruhuna defended those runs brilliantly, and celebrated like they had won the title. It was hardly celebration time in the afternoon as they lost Sanath Jayasuriya and skipper Mahela Udawatte cheaply, and the score board was going nowhere. Chandimal batted beautifully without support until Shalika Karnunayake came out all guns blazing. The pair added 41 (22b), contributing heavily to 56 off the final five overs, the stand coming on the back of another association of 44 (36b) between Chandimal and Milinda Siriwardana. Leiecestershire, flagging towards the end, paid a heavy price for their largesse.

Score board

RUHUNU: Sanath Jayasuriya b Gurney 6 (9b, 1x4), Mahela Udawatte c & b Gurney 2 (3b), Dinesh Chandimal (not out) 62 (51b, 6x4, 2x6), Kushal Perera c Naik b Razzaq 19 (15b, 2x4, 1x6), Janaka Gunaratne c Nixon b Razzaq 1 (3b), Milinda Siriwardana c White b Henderson 17 (21b, 1x4), Shalika Karunanayake c Razzaq b Gurney 28 (15b, 2x4, 2x6), TM Sampath (not out) 6 (3b, 1x6). Extras (B-1, LB-2, W-16) 19. Total (for 6 wkts, 20 overs) 160.
Fall of wickets: 1-7 (Jayasuriya), 2-17 (Udawatte), 3-47 (K Perera), 4-67 (Gunaratne), 5-111 (Siriwardana), 6-152 (Karunanayake).
Bowling: Jigar Naik 3-0-22-0, Harry Gurney 4-0-33-3 (w-8), Abdul Razzaq 4-0-30-2 (w-1), Claude Henderson 4-0-29-1 (w-1), Wayne White 4-0-34-0 (2-1), Andrew McDonald 1-0-9-0 (w-5).
Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 40/2.

LEICESTERSHIRE: Josh Cobb c Sampath b Janoda 15 (6b, 2x6), Abdul Razzaq c Chandimal b Gunaratne 68 (46b, 6x4, 2x6), Andrew McDonald st Chandimal b Silva 24 (15b, 3x4), Will Jefferson lbw Silva 3 (4b), James Taylor c Chandimal b Siriwardana 11 (11b, 1x4), Paul Nixon b Gunaratne 3 (4b), Wayne White c K Perera b Silva 3 (7b), Jaques du Toit c Karunanayake b Gunaratne 13 (13b, 1x4), Claude Henderson (not out) 8 (11b), Jigar Naik (not out) 2 (3b). Extras (LB-3, W-3) 6. Total (for 8 wkts, 20 overs) 156.
Fall of wickets: 1-31 (Cobb), 2-73 (McDonald), 3-81 (Jefferson), 4-109 (Taylor), 5-128 (Razzaq), 6-130 (Nixon), 7-134 (White), 8-150 (du Toit).
Bowling: Janaka Gunaratne 4-0-27-3 (w-1), Sanath Jayasuriya 4-0-37-0, Arosh Janoda 2-0-22-1 (w-1), Chinthaka Perera 2-0-15-0, Milinda Siriwardana 4-0-23-1, Asanka Silva 4-0-29-3 (w-1).
Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 64/1.