Dinesh Chandimal celebrated his Test recall with a fighting half-century to keep Ruhuna alive in the Champions League qualifiers. On a slow Hyderabad pitch Ruhuna were reduced to 17 for 2 and 67 for 4, but Leicestershire couldn’t breach Chandimal’a defiance. Harry Gurney, using the slower ball extensively with the new ball, took the first two out, and Abdul Razzaq pegged the middle order back with his two strikes. Chandimal, however, batted intelligently, not taking many risks, hitting the big ones mainly down the ground, adding 44 and 41 with Milinda Siriwardana and Shalika Karunanayake.
Leicestershire were without their captain Matthew Hoggard, but didn’t miss him much as his replacement, offspinner Jigar Naik, and Gurney provided them with a great start. Gurney’s slower balls hit Sanath Jayasuriya’s stumps and Mahela Udawatte’s top edge. Chandimal and Kushal Perera’s response was to counterattack in a 30-run stand in 4.2 overs, but Razzaq’s accuracy and pace variations accounted for Perera and Janaka Gunaratne. Those strikes took Razzaq to 100 Twenty20 wickets.
Chandimal had 32 out of a total of 67 by then, and Ruhuna still had 10 overs to go. He batted along with Siriwardana, even as it rained in bright sunlight. As soon as it stopped raining, Siriwardana top-edged Claude Henderson for 17 off 21, but with Chandimal entrenched Ruhuna were set to tee off in the last four overs. Chandimal, who had played orthodox cricketing shots to get to his 50 off 45, let Karunanayake put in the slog.
Karunana hit two fours and two sixes – teasing ones, which cleared the boundary riders by inches – in his 28 off 15 to help Ruhuna score 47 off the last four.
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