Galle Gladiators beat Dambulla Giants by 9 runs in rain-curtailed match

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Veteran English spinner Samit Patel grabbed two crucial wickets as Galle Gladiators bounced back to defend their target of 135, defeating Dambulla Giants by nine runs in a rain-curtailed Lanka Premier League (LPL) game at the R. Premadasa Stadium here.

The match, reduced to 14 overs due to rain, saw Dambulla Giants captain Dasun Shanaka win the toss and elect to field on Tuesday evening. The Gladiators were given a strong start by openers Danushka Gunathilaka and Kusal Mendis, who added 30 runs in 2.5 overs for the opening stand.

Gladiators’ innings was bolstered by Kusal Mendis who made 35 off 17 balls, hitting four boundaries and a six, while skipper Bhanuka Rajapaksa struck 33 off 20 powered by three sixes and a four in his innings.

But Gladiators’ middle-order struggled as veteran Proteas spinner Imran Tahir picked up three wickets for 20 runs while Joshua Little picked up 2/29, as they restricted Gladiators to 134/7 in 14 overs.

Chasing the total, Giants lost Niroshan Dickwella for a duck on the third ball, but the 90-run stand between Philip Salt and Janith Liyanage shifted the tides in their favour, and it looked like Gladiators may suffer their third loss in a row.

But Salt was dismissed for 41 by Isuru Udana in the 11th over, and shortly after, Samit Patel sent both Liyanage for 51 and skipper Shanaka for 1 back to the hut, and the match shifted gears once again.

Despite late hitting from Najibullah Zadran, who hit two sixes to score 16 runs in nine balls, the Giants fell short of the target by nine runs, scoring 125/5 in 14 overs, and Gladiators won the match to earn two crucial points.

Brief scores: Galle Gladiators 134/7 in 14 overs (Kusal Mendis 35, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 33; Imran Tahir 3/20) bt Dambulla Giants 125/5 in 14 overs (Phil Salt 41, Janith Liyanage 51; Samit Patel 2/24).

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