Twenty-year-old Qais Ahmad came up with an extraordinary batting performance as the Colombo Kings got the better of the Dambulla Viiking in a massive chase in Match 20 of the LPL 2020 on Friday. Qais Ahmad’s spectacular 50 not out off 22 balls, which succeeded his 2 for 23, took Colombo Kings home by six wickets, with seven balls to spare, while chasing 204.
After Laurie Evans was forced to retire hurt having played another fantastic innings of 53 from 24 balls, Ashan Priyanjan (47 not out from 28) and Thikshila de Silva (31 from 16) kept Colombo Kings’ hopes alive. With Andre Russell rested though, they needed someone else to deliver the knockout punch.
Like Jasprit Bumrah for India earlier in the day against Australia A, Ahmad turned out to be the surprise batting star. He got off to a quiet start, managing only five runs off his first six balls. Ahmad then swung into action for Colombo Kings, driving Malinda Pushpakumara for consecutive fours, one through extra cover and the other down the ground.
The first of his five sixes came against Lahiru Kumara when he carted a length ball high over long-on. With 23 needed off the last two overs, the fearless youngster whacked Anwar Ali for four sixes in five balls, the first three in a row, to make a mockery of the chase.
The first three deliveries of the over were all length deliveries and got the punishment it deserved. The first ball was launched over long-off by Ahmad, the second over cow corner and the third over wide long-on. A yorker followed, but the penultimate delivery of the over was again a length ball, which Ahmad deposited over deep midwicket to clinch the game in emphatic fashion.
Ahmad’s brilliance put two incredible knocks by his teammates in its shadows. Evans smashed five fours and four sixes in his blistering half-century while Priyanjan, having hit four fours and two sixes, was a mere spectator as the bright Afghan talent stole the limelight in the end.
Qais Ahmad shines with the ball even as Dambulla Viiking cross 200
Having been asked to bat by Colombo Kings, Dambulla Viiking got off to a rollicking start in the match. Samit Patel and Niroshan Dickwella went on an all-out attack as Dambulla Viiking raced to their 50 in under five overs.
Dambulla Viiking lost their first wicket exactly at 50, when Ahmad got Patel (26 from 13) to drag one onto his stumps with a tossed up delivery. Off the very next ball, the leg-spinner trapped Upul Tharanga lbw with another flighted one.
Ahmad finished his spell with excellent figures of 2 for 23, but the rest of the bowling attack came in for severe punishment. Dickwella contributed 65 from 40 while Angelo Perera hammered an unbeaten 74 in 51 balls, with the aid of seven fours and two sixes.
With skipper Dasun Shanaka chipping in with an unbeaten 28 from 15, Dambulla Viiking eased past 200. Dushmantha Chameera was taken for 49 in his four while Thikshila de Silva went for 30 in his two overs. On Ahmad’s day though, the massive target of 204 seemed like a walk in the park.
Having finished on top of the points table, Colombo Kings now face Galle Gladiators in the first semi-final on Sunday. Dambulla Viiking will take on Jaffna Stallions in the other semi-final on Monday.
LPL 2020 - Dambulla Viiking vs Colombo Kings: Who was the Man of the Match?
Since both teams crossed 200, there were numerous splendid efforts with the bat. Batting first, Dambulla Viiking were aided by impressive half-centuries from Angelo Perera and Dickwella. For Colombo Kings, Evans and Priyanjan came up with terrific knocks.
One couldn’t look beyond Ahmad for the player of the match though. In a game where 400-plus runs were scored, finishing with figures of 2 for 23 in four overs is an achievement in itself. The mind-boggling fact was that it wasn’t even his chief contribution to Colombo Kings’ victory. His blistering fifty was perhaps an indication that the next Andre Russell might be on his way.