Dec 16, 2020

Stallions have edge over Gladiators at LPL final

After ousting the top two teams Colombo Kings and Dambulla Viiking from the fray, both Jaffna Stallions and Galle Gladiators did well to surge ahead to today’s final of the LPL T20 tournament at the MRICS, Hambantota commencing at 7.30pm.

Thisara Perera’s Jaffna Gladiators has the edge over their rivals when comparing the two teams on their composition and past performances on their way to the final. He has the luxury of some prolific players, who are in their peak and guided them to notch up victories after several close calls. Johnson Charles, Wanindu Hasaranga, Shoaib Malik, Usman Shinwari, Avishka Fernando and Dhananjaya de Silva are a few of their key players who are in prime form. Avishka Fernando is their highest run getter with 248 runs inclusive of two half centuries with an unbeaten 92 being his highest score in the series. His form today will be crucial in the top order batting as he is a player who has a wide range of shots. He is also capable of handling both the pace and spin bowling exceptionally well striking some towering sixes against the top bowlers in this contest. The rest of the others are Johnson Charles and Shoaib Malik who are equally in good shape and are real match winners. Malik is an asset for any team who could fit in as a quality all-rounder. He contributed with some valuable knocks when his team relied on him mostly.

The cynosure of all eyes will be their two scintillating all-rounders Vanindu Hasaranga and Dhananjaya de Silva, the two ideal players suited for this form of the game. Hasasranga remains as the top wicket taker capturing 16 wickets so far with the best spell of 3/15 while chipping in with some valuable innings to bail them out when in difficulty. Dhananjaya will never play second fiddle to any player in this tournament where he has matured as another match winner for the side.

“I am happy with the player’s form and especially with the progress of the team. The big named boys have started to perform and guide us on the winning path. Hasaranga’s will be our key player who has been our livewire so far in our success. The boys are pumped up for the big occasion with our strategic game plan and will want to win the title.’ Said Thisara Perera.

On the other hand, Galle Gladiators are brimming with confidence after their stunning win against Colombo Kings in the semis. The top run getter of the tournament Dhanushka Gunathilake with 475 runs inclusive of four half centuries, once again will be their key player. He is capable of destroying any bowling attack whilst scoring runs briskly. According to their skipper Banuka Rajapaksa they had a disastrous start to the tournament losing the first five matches in a row, while adding salt to the wound losing their regular skipper Shahid Afridi, who had to leave them in-between due to urgent family commitments. But Banuka managed to get the boys to get their act together and strived hard to bring them to this level. He is pretty confident that each player knows his task and will have to execute it well both while fielding and batting. He was also pretty focused on his personal form with the bat and looks forward to play a key role in their batting department.

“We have one injury issue and that is not so serious. I am happy that bowling department has found its rhythm and shaping up well. It is left for our batsmen to give us the required start. We know what a match winner is Dhanushka Gunathilake and expect the same start which he offered us in the past. Nevertheless, we as a young team are fully focused about our tasks today including my form and hope to give of our best for the team to grab the championship.” Said Banuka Rajapaksa.

Both teams are likely to retain their semi-final playing combination if there is no injury issues and both captains showed their sincere gratitude to the Sri Lanka Cricket officials for conducting such a tournament under tough conditions and thanking the ground staff for producing some placid pitches which had been very conducive for producing enthralling game of cricket.