Pallekele: The Colombo Strikers emerged victorious in a last-over thriller in the Lanka Premier League, triumphing over the Galle Titans with one ball remaining at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Monday. Having elected to field first, the Titans put up 188/3 in the first inning. Pathum Nissanka, who was given a new position to begin the batting by captain Niroshan Dickwella, and centurion Babar Azam spearheaded a momentous 111-run partnership that propelled the Strikers’ superb run chase. Babar Azam was in breath-taking form, scoring 104 runs in just 59 balls, while the exceptional Pathum Nissanka assisted with a critical knock of 54 runs in 40 balls. In the dying embers of the run chase, Mohamad Nawaz swiftly scored 14 runs in just four deliveries to propel the Strikers to victory.
Following his match-winning knock, Babar Azam reiterated the importance of the victory and said, “The team really needed this victory. I think the whole team really stepped up to get us this win. We went in with a very positive attitude, not only from the players but from the coach as well, and I think that helped us secure the points.”
Babar Azam’s stand of 111 runs with Pathum Nissanka is the highest opening partnership of the season so far. Babar Azam shed light on their strategy before and during the run chase and said, “We felt the total was chasable. It was our plan to utilize the first six overs and then try to maintain that run rate. We had it in our minds that we had to build a big partnership, as that would help us take the game deep. It would not have been easy for a new batsman to come in and score runs quickly. In the second last over, we lost our momentum a little bit, but Chamika and Nawaz did well to finish it off.”
Babar further commended the Colombo Strikers’ bowling unit for restricting the Galle Titans as well. “The Titans started very well; they had scored 67 runs on the powerplay. It looked like we might be chasing more than 200 runs, but the bowlers, backed by good fielding, did well to come back in the middle and death overs, which helped us restrict their score”, he said.
Babar also reflected on his time at the Lanka Premier League and how it will be a launchpad for the upcoming international tournaments.
“This is a very good league; cricket has been very competitive. There is a very good mix of talented young and senior players. After the Lanka Premier League, we have a bilateral series against Afghanistan, followed by the Asia Cup and the World Cup. I am taking it series by series, and every game is an opportunity to prepare. For now, my full focus is on the league,” he opined.
Finally, he expressed his views on becoming the green cap holder and said, “I love to take on a challenge, and if the team needs me, I will give my 100% on the field. This is my mindset; no matter where I am playing, I always try to give my 100% and enjoy my cricket.”
On the other hand, half-centurion Pathum Nissanka regained his form to play a key role in the innings, anchoring the run chase while allowing Babar Azam to pursue a higher strike rate. He expressed his pleasure at finding his form yet again and helping his side gain an all-important victory. He said, “It is great to be back in form. Opening the inning is my natural position; I am very happy about my knock and looking forward to doing my best for the team.”
“I think it was very easy to bat with Babar; we planned to keep going and rotate the strike. The 100-run partnership helped set a platform for the team to successfully chase the target,” he added.
With this victory, the Colombo Strikers are placed third on the table with four points in just as many games. They currently trail the Dambulla Aura and the Galle Titans. The Strikers will be playing their next match against Jaffna Kings on Tuesday, August 8, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. IST LIVE on the Star Sports Network and FanCode.