Kamindu Mendis auditioned for the T20 World Cup with scores of 74, 53*, and 66 in the tournament
Dasun Shanaka‘s outstanding batting form saw SLC Greys triumph in the board’s Invitational T20 Tournament – a two-week affair that served both as an audition for the national side in a T20 World Cup year, as well as training for the global tournament that starts in October.
Having gone unbeaten through the round robin stages (each of the four teams played oppositions twice), Greys won the final against SLC Reds – led by Dinesh Chandimal – by 42 runs. Shanaka would have top-scored in the tournament even if he had not contributed in Tuesday’s final, but his 48 not out off 17 was instrumental to Greys’ total of 201 for 4. Reds lost three wickets in the powerplay before recovering somewhat through a 65-run partnership between Oshada Fernando and Asela Gunaratne, but were eventually squeezed out by Greys’ excellent attack. They were all out for 159.
Sri Lanka’s team management will be heartened by new limited-overs captain Shanaka’s tournament performance. Batting in the No. 5 position he has recently occupied for the national side, Shanaka hit 84, 48, 8, 55*, 15, and 48* through the course of the event, maintaining a strike rate of 184, as he routinely provided the closing fireworks to Greys’ innings. His knock in the final was his most explosive, and propelled Greys to the first total of over 200 in the tournament. Greys were favourites from the outset and never looked like losing this final. Wicketkeeper-batter Minod Bhanuka, who seems likely to feature in Sri Lanka’s T20 World Cup squad, top-scored for Greys, with a 74 off 51 that set the scene for Shanaka.
There were also three particular players on the fringes of the national T20 side who impressed in the tournament. Kamindu Mendis – who bowls fingerspin with both arms, but is mostly a batter – was the tournament’s second-highest scorer, hitting 74, 53*, and 66 in the three innings he played (several matches were rained out), maintaining a tournament strike rate of 168. Chandimal did not score as quickly – his strike rate down at 120 – but was nevertheless the third-highest scorer, with a tally of 183 in the tournament. On the bowling front, experienced seam bowler Nuwan Pradeep was the tournament’s joint-highest wicket-taker with seven dismissals, and an economy rate of 7.16.
Sri Lanka’s two best players from the limited-overs series against India – legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga and fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera – did not play in the tournament. Neither did Kusal Perera, who tested positive for Covid-19. The entire tournament was played in Pallekele, within a biosecure bubble.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
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