The late bloomers of the Lanka Premier League 2020, Galle Gladiators will challenge the table toppers, Colombo Kings on the 13th of December at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in the 1st semifinal of the inaugural edition of the tournament.
Colombo Kings looked a class apart from the other four teams as the front runner of the tournament, winnings six out of their eight matches. Their batting looks solid, led by two openers Laurie Evans and Dinesh Chandimal who have positioned themselves at 2nd and 6th in the top run scorers’ chart. Apart from those heavy guns, players like Andre Russell, Ashan Priyanjan, Thikshila de Silva, Daniel-Bell-Drummond and Qais Ahmed have all had their moments with the bat, suggesting the Kings’ depth in the batting order.
Afghan leggy Qais Ahmed is the option skipper Angelo Mathews has turned to when in need of a breakthrough and Ahmed has responded brilliantly so far, securing second position in the highest wicket takers’ column. Dushmantha Chameera, who is hoping to make a comeback to international cricket after a long string of injuries, has been bowling with proper gas as he has clicked 140kph plus often and troubled the batsman regularly.
Qais Ahmad tonks Kings to the top!
For Gladiators it has been a one-man show so far as Danushka Gunathilaka has been in the form of his life. He boasts 462 runs at 77 per match maintaining a strike-rate of 144 which translates to mind-boggling figures in T20 cricket. While all of his teammates have found it difficult, Gunathilaka turned up from game 01. However, the Gladiators’ batting looked improved at the later stage of the tournament as Ahsan Ali, Azam Khan and Bhanuka Rajapaksa slowly returned to their best.
Pakistani veteran Mohammad Amir is undoubtably the best seamer of the tournament as he has also found his rhythm at the final stages of the league phase and been the main striker of the Galle attack. Amir and Nuwan Thushara’s opening and closing spells will be crucial for the Gladiators while Lakshan Sandakan looks to control the middle overs against the Kings.
The Gladiators didn’t look like they could match the power of Colombo Kings in the first part of the tournament but after first four losses, they have come back pretty hard and seem a different outfit cum the semis.
Gladiators claim final semi-final berth
In their two meetings in the tournament, both teams have won one each. Andre Russell went berserk in the rain-curtailed 5-over contest in the first face-off while Mohammad Amir and Lakshan Sandakan scripted the Gladiators’ first win sharing 8 wickets between them in the second.
Laurie Evans had to leave the crease in their last league game after making a half-century after being hit in the stomach. In the post-match presentation Angelo Mathews said that Evan’s injury seemed pretty bad and his availability will be assessed further. It will be a big blow for Kings if their highest run scorer of the tournament cannot make the playing XI on Sunday.
Apart from Evans, Mathews who has had a string of low scores during the tournament, didn’t opt to bat in their last game even though he bowled in the first innings. He explained that he had a tight hamstring and didn’t want to risk it while batting.
For the Gladiators, Jamaican batsman Chadwick Walton was injured and forced to retire hurt while batting against Dambulla Viiking earlier in the week. Walton didn’t feature in the next game as he was replaced by Hazratullah Zazai but Gladiators would prefer Walton over Zazai to beef up their middle order.
Another concern for Gladiators is Nuwan Thushara, who bowled brilliantly in the limited opportunities he was presented, picking up an injury in the last game.
Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Laurie Evans, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Angelo Mathews (c), Andre Russell, Ashan Priyanjan, Thikshila de Silva, Isuru Udana, Qais Ahmad, Tharindu Kaushal, Dushmantha Chameera
Danushka Gunathilaka, Hazratullah Zazai, Ahsan Ali, Bhanuka Rajapaksa (c), Azam Khan (wk), Shehan Jayasuriya, Sahan Arachchige, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Lakshan Sandakan, Mohammad Amir, Nuwan Thushara
>>Lanka Premier League 2020 – Coverage Powered by My Cola<<