In a gripping final showdown at the R Premadasa International Cricket Stadium on August 20, Angelo Mathews, standing in as captain, led B-Love Kandy to their inaugural victory in the Lanka Premier League (LPL) 2023. The thrilling contest saw Kandy secure a heart-stopping five-wicket win over Dambulla Aura in front of a packed stadium.
Facing a target of 148 runs, B-Love Kandy managed to clinch the victory with just one ball to spare, largely thanks to Mathews’ resolute unbeaten innings of 25 runs from 21 balls and a quick cameo from Asif Ali, who contributed 19 runs off 10 balls.
This remarkable win came in the absence of LPL 2023’s highest wicket-taker, highest run-scorer, and captain, Wanindu Hasaranga, who was sidelined due to a hamstring injury. Angelo Mathews, the seasoned campaigner, played a pivotal role in ensuring that Kandy claimed the coveted LPL crown in the tournament’s fourth edition.
Opting to bat first, Dambulla Aura managed to build two substantial 50-run partnerships. However, the Kandy bowlers put up a valiant effort to restrict Dambulla to a total of 147 runs for the loss of four wickets within the allotted 20 overs.
Kandy’s opening duo of Kamindu Mendis (44) and Mohammad Haris (26) got their team off to a flying start, amassing 47 runs without losing a wicket in the powerplay. Wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal added to the momentum with a brisk 22-ball 24 before being dismissed by Binura Fernando.
When Angelo Mathews walked to the crease in the 13th over, Kandy were positioned at 95-2. The experienced Mathews displayed remarkable composure under pressure as Kandy faced a sudden dip in fortunes, slipping from 94-1 to 107-4 in just 21 deliveries. Mathews’ innings of 25 runs included three boundaries, and he refrained from taking unnecessary risks, guiding his team to the target in the final over.
Despite Noor Ahmed’s commendable bowling effort for Dambulla Aura, where he took three wickets for 27 runs, it wasn’t enough to secure victory for his team.
Reflecting on the thrilling triumph, Angelo Mathews commented, “I had to draw upon all my experience from the past 15 years. I had to remain calm. We knew the pitch was favorable, and the target was achievable. Asif Ali and Lahiru Madushanka were outstanding in the closing stages. We were fortunate to prevail despite numerous injuries. The last three games were physically demanding for us.”
Wanindu Hasaranga, who collected the winner’s trophy and a $100,000 cheque from Sri Lanka Cricket President Shammi Silva, was not only named the Player of the Series but also finished as both the leading run-scorer and wicket-taker in LPL 2023. Expressing his delight at his contributions, Hasaranga stated that he is thrilled because he made valuable contributions with the bat. Whether he is batting or bowling, he always strives to give his best, whether he is leading the team or not. He was also named Player of the Tournament in the inaugural edition, but this one is even more special as he made a significant impact with the bat.
Overall, Angelo Mathews’ exceptional leadership and calm demeanor guided B-Love Kandy to their maiden LPL title in a nail-biting final, overshadowing the absence of their star captain Wanindu Hasaranga due to injury. The victory showcased the resilience and determination of the team in the face of adversity.