Matches are not won on paper, are they? Ruhuna Royals, a fairly balanced side, with a complete mix of capable batsmen, good bowlers and notable all-rounders, floundered about at almost all times. The start wasn't the brightest by any means as they lost to Nagenahira Nagas in a rain-curtailed curtain-raiser. None of the Ruhuna batsmen found the measure of the sluggish surface, regularly mis hitting slogs to the infield. The big names flopped, and Nagenahira chased down a modest total with very little difficulty.
The second match of the trip was against Uthura Rudras - a team with promising talent. Things shaped out well and courtesy of the fifties by Aaron Finch and Gihan Rupasinghe, Ruhuna Royals tasted first success, crushing them by 35 runs in another rain-curtailed 16-overs-a-side encounter. The win depicted their capability and the team started to look like a dangerous article.
Ruhuna, in their third outing, were up against Kandurata Warriors, a team which had home advantage to boost their chances of propelling. Ruhuna did half their job well, restricting the Warriors to 142, but the worst was yet to come. Sohail Tanvir's spell of 3 for 4 broke the back of Ruhuna and Ajmal suffocated the innings during the middle overs despite a short-lived surge from Shahid Afridi. Kandurata Warriors were handed a 42-run victory, their second in three nights in Pallekele.
To add insult to injury, Shahid Afridi, unfortunately, had to depart early because of his ailing wife, leaving Ruhuna Royals more bruised than ever. Uva Next took advantage of the golden opportunity and Seekkuge Prasanna spun them to their third win despite Wahab Riaz's late excitement.
Ruhuna's chances of advancing to the knockout stage looked highly unlikely. A ray of hope illuminated when they thrashed Basnahira Cricket Dundee. Nasir Jamshed guided Ruhuna home in 16.4 overs with a measured 51 from 46 balls, after Aaron Finch had provided an explosive start to the run chase.
Ruhuna Royals, in their last encounter, were stranded in a do or die situation. The team up against them were Wayamba United - the best of the lot. It was a mismatch on paper. Dinesh Chandimal shook off a poor run of form with a 54-ball 75 to mount a dependable total. Lahiru Thirimanne resisted till the very end for Ruhuna Roylas and remained not out on 40, but it was not enough and Ruhuna Royals crashed out of the SLPL with a 14-run loss.
The journey that started with high hopes ended in despair with all hopes shattered. There were positives to be contended with, but very little. The ill-fated side had to settle with a belief of approaching fiercely next season in order to turn the tables on the teams which made them lick the dust this season and made their journey a fiasco.
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