The second semi-final of the Unacademy Road Safety World Series promised a lot initially. However, it ended with a comprehensive Sri Lanka Legends victory as they took their place in the final of the first ever edition of the Unacademy Road Safety World Series in a fairly one-sided contest here at Raipur.
Having won the toss for the seventh consecutive time, Sri Lanka Legends skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan stuck to his mantra and decided to field first. South Africa Legends had a rather solid start despite losing Puttick early. Morne Van Wyk yet again starred with 53 off 47 deliveries. Alviro Peterson gave him good support, scoring 27 runs in the same amount of deliveries. However, when the time came up for the rest of the South Africa Legends side to turn up, they faltered big time. The rest of the batting order simply failed to fire and eventually managed a rather underwhelming 125 in their stipulated 20 overs.
This kind of bowling effort from Sri Lanka Legends has become more of a regular occurence now. They were quite good in the first 8 overs or so, but what came after that can only be described as havoc. Nuwan Kulasekara played a stellar role, as he put up the best bowling figures in the tournament so far, returning 5/25 in his four overs. Jayasuriya was miserly with his spell, giving away just 12 runs while picking up one wicket in his quota of 4 overs. Weeraratne and Maharoof scalped a wicket apiece as well.
Requiring 126 runs to win, Sri Lanka Legends made a rather slow start compared to the rest of their victories, something which can probably be attributed with wanting to secure a win without too much drama. Skipper Dilshan was rather cautious with his approach but still fell to Makhaya Ntini, as Zander De Bruyn took a fantastic catch. Sanath Jayasuriya was then joined by Upul Tharanga in the middle, as the duo dug in and stabilised the innings a bit. After Jayasuriya departed for 18, Jayasinghe made his way to the crease and took a different approach, going after all the bowlers on his way to a match-winning unbeaten innings, scoring 47 runs off just 25 deliveries. Upul Tharanga supported him well from the other end, as Sri Lanka Legends made their way to the final with a well-deserved 8-wicket win.
The South Africa Legends were decent with the ball and had they not been subjected to an onslaught by Jayasinghe, they could have taken the match very deep. Alviro Petersen was the pick of the bowlers with 1/15 while Makhaya Ntini was good as usual, picking up Dilshan and ending with 1/27.
Overall, a great game, although it couldn't quite recreate the rush of the first semi-final. The Proteas bowed out despite putting up a decent performance, and it was excellent having them in the tournament. They lost their way in the second half of their batting innings, and never looked like they would recover from there. As for the Sri Lanka Legends, they have set up somewhat of a rematch of the 2011 ICC World Cup final, where a number of players from the Sri Lanka Legends team and India Legends team were still playing. They will be having that somewhere in the back of their minds, just like fans all around the world.
On to the grand finale now!
Brief scores :
Sri Lanka Legends 129/2 in 17.2 overs (C. Jayasinghe 47*(25), U. Tharanga 39*(44); A. Petersen 1/15, M. Ntini 1/27) beat South Africa Legends 125 all out in 20 overs (M. Van Wyk 53(47), A. Petersen 27(27); N. Kulasekara 5/25, S. Jayasuriya 1/12) by 8 wickets.