Dambulla Viiking 195 for 4 (Shanaka 73, Patel 58, Gunaratne 2-20) beat Kandy Tuskers 84 for 3 (Mendis 34, Ali 1-13) by four runs (DLS method)
How the game played out
The Kandy Tuskers suffered their second-straight narrow defeat as the Dambulla Viiking eked out a four-run victory (DLS method) after rain brought play to an abrupt close in Sooriyawewa.
Set a target of 196, the Tuskers lost Kusal Perera early in the chase but Rahmanullah Gurbaz carried on where he had left off from the previous game, blazing four boundaries and six in an 18-ball 30. With rain on the horizon, many of those runs took on added meaning.
As such when he was dropped in the fifth over, it was all the more painful for the Viiking, though Malinda Pushpakumara would rattle his stumps a few balls later to ensure no further damage was done.
Despite Kusal Mendis' best efforts the asking rate would remain just beyond reach - particularly once Kamindu Mendis found the man in the deep six balls before play was called off, to make the DLS equation even more troublesome.
While the rollercoaster nature of impending rain and DLS permutations provided much of the excitement towards the end, it was the 127-run fourth-wicket stand between Viiking Captain Dasun Shanaka and Samit Patel's that was the highlight of the game. While the Viiking looked like they would struggle to make 150, the pair took it upon themselves to put up a competitive, and eventually match-winning, total.
Stars of the day
Who else but Shanaka and Patel. Coming together with the Viiking limping at 64 for 2 - effectively three down with Oshada Fernando retired hurt - at the end of the ninth over, the pair would eventually only be separated midway through the final over.
Shanaka's innings despite a shaky start - he twice came close to being dismissed early - was largely one of little risk and maximum effectiveness. On a flat deck with almost no lateral movement, over half of his 38-ball 74 came from booming hits down the ground, though he wasn't afraid to mix things up, twice scooping Nuwan Pradeep over the keeper's head for four - the quintessential captain's knock.
Patel, meanwhile, did well to keep the momentum on Viiking's side. While not quite keeping up with the near-200 strike rate of Shanaka, he saved his big hits for the crucial moments - many a time converting good Tuskers overs into mediocre ones in one swing.
In a word, rain. With rain in the air, the Tuskers' chase had fast turned into a race. With each run and wicket potentially decisive, 19-year old Gurbaz was threatening to take the game away. But when domestic circuit veteran Pushpakumara cleaned him up first ball of his spell, not only did it temporarily put the Viiking ahead on DLS, but it would handicap the Tuskers' ability to score quick runs - as well as amp up the scoreboard pressure.
The big miss
In the 11th over of the game, Shanaka, fresh at the crease, nicked one between keeper and first slip. Two balls later Naveen-ul-Haq would drop a tough chance at long on. That Nuwan Pradeep over would end up going for 17 runs. Between those missed chances and the end of the Viiking innings, there would be five more overs that would go for double digit sums - including 22 off Kavishka Anjula in the 18th.
The decision by Kusal Perera to not bowl out his trio of spinners - Asela Gunaratne, Dilruwan Perera, and Seekkuge Prasanna - who in nine overs between them had picked up two wickets and conceded just 58 runs, is a perplexing one. Particularly when the Tuskers' seam contingent proceeded to concede 80 runs - 22 in that Anjula over - in the final six overs of the innings.