Match 9 Report: Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s blistering knock confirms playoff spot for Kings


At one point of the season, what looked pretty straightforward for us, we managed to do it the hard way and have qualified for this season’s CPL playoff. The win against Guyana Amazon Warriors, - which was also their first loss of the season -  also confirmed 3rd place for us in the table, resulting in an Eliminator match for us.

Warriors skipper Imran Tahir won the toss and decided to bowl first. The former South African leg spinner had the luxury to experiment and so he did by asking his bowlers to bowl with the wet ball. There were also two changes in the lineup for us, McKenny Clarke coming in alongside match-winner Bhanuka Rajapaksa. 

The Kings started off with a brilliant spell of opening bowling, with Matthew Forder and Roston Chase giving the Warriors’ opening batsmen a hard time. After struggling at 3 of his 11 balls, Matthew Nandu was run out in the 4th over because of some casual running between the wickets and some excellent fielding by Sean Williams.


In-form batter Saim Ayub and Shai Hope put up a decent partnership after the wicket of Nandu, smashing boundaries at regular intervals. However, our bowlers were on top of their game with the wet ball, making life difficult for the Warriors. Even the in-form Ayub seemed to struggle and was dismissed for just 16 in 20 balls by our captain Raza in the 9th over.

Azam Khan came in next and gave Tahir’s men a breath of fresh air at the crease with his quickfire runs. However, Forde came to the rescue by getting the big wicket of Hope for a well-made 38. We needed the wicket of Azam after he pushed the Warriors’ net run-rate significantly and Alzarri Joseph did the job for us and was dismissed for 40 of just 25 balls in the 17th over. The Warriors finished their innings strongly after some good cameos by Hetmyer, Keemo Paul, and Romario Shepherd and got to a decent total of 167 in their 20 overs.


The target wasn’t that steep for us, but we needed to remain focused if we wanted to get there. We, however, got off to the worst possible start after losing Johnson Charles for just 1 run in the first ball of the 2nd over against Shepherd’s bowling. From there Rajapaksa and Colin Munro took off and their partnership made sure that the win was just a matter of time for us.

The highest run-scorer in the history of CPL, Munro looked in fine touch once again. The Kiwi has proved his credentials after replacing our former captain Faf du Plessis in the squad. He has been batting at an average of nearly 57 runs and has scored 170 runs in just his 4 games. His selection of shots were a joy to watch against the Warriors and the Kiwi will be crucial in our Eliminator game.

Bhanuka meanwhile played just his second game for us this season and has scored 101 runs in his 2 games - a chunk of which came in this game. The Sri Lankan’s range of strokes and the way he picked out gaps between the fielders against the Warriors showed that he is growing in confidence at just about the right time for us. He will be crucial for our middle-order batting and has also added experience to our lineup. Bhanuka played a perfect innings where he showed he can pick the gaps as well as slog the ball whenever needed - something that will be important in the knockout games.


Munro scored a well-paced 55 of 43 balls, while man of the match Rajapaksa scored a stunning 86 of just 49 balls. The partnership of 132 runs between them effectively closed the game for the Warriors. The Sri Lankan started off slowly with a couple of edges, but some poor fielding by Tahir’s men helped settle Rajapaksa and in return helped us go home with the win we needed to qualify for playoffs.

The Warriors did get the wickets of Munro and Bhanuka but by that time, it was a case of too little, too late, and the Zimbabwean duo of Raza and Williams got us over the line. With this win, we have effectively confirmed the third spot with a game to spare against Jamaica Tallawahs this weekend.

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