How teams stack up
On surface Galle Gladiators they don’t deserve to be in this final. They have only won a third of their matches in the tournament and their semi-final opponents suffered multiple injuries in Sunday’s match. Yet when you look at the offense that they suddenly managed to reunite towards the end of the tournament, you can’t even regret their place.
Dhananjaya Lakshan, who basically sways the ball in the right hander and throws a slower collection of balls, was perhaps the discovery of the tournament. Nuwan Thushara, who throws him round-arm like Lasith Malinga, was effective with the new ball and to death. Lakshan Sandakan has found a T20 strategy that seems to work for him: pushing the ball off often, while also throwing into the air faster than before. Mohammad Amir led the attack, enjoying the fluctuating conditions the tournament saw last week. As if by magic, Gladiators have three of the top five wicket-takers in the tournament, Sandakan has taken 11 wickets, while Lakshan and Amir have 10 each.
Yet despite this, Jaffna Stallions I feel their attack is still the best of the competition. In large part this is due to Wanindu Hasaranga, who was the tournament’s intermediate monster, taking 16 wickets in all and even more impressive, maintaining an economy rate of 5.27 on his 33 overs. To put that economy rate into perspective, no other bowler who has taken a wicket in the LPL can come close to matching it. The hitters know it’s his googly they need to watch out for, and yet they’ve succumbed en masse.
Here too there is variety. Usman Shinwari’s pace can be deployed almost anywhere during the inning. Duanne Olivier bowled much slower than he was capable of, but worked on his control over the course of the tournament. And as seen on Monday, Dhananjaya de Silva is a great support spinner, particularly when playing bowling with lefties (Danushka Gunathilaka from gladiators and Bhanuka Rajapaksa are both left-handed hitters), and Shoaib Malik’s darts can be effective. in the middle overs and even at death.
On the joke front, there’s less around here. Gunathilaka has been in searing contact at the top of the inning for Galle, but even though they managed to hit their modest goal on Sunday, that middle order still looks a bit fragile. The stallions, meanwhile, have had rides from Avishka Fernando and Thisara Perera over the course of the tournament, but there is no one in that lineup to say in compelling form.
Watch out for
Spinner Gunathilaka v Stallions
In the previous two games against Stallions, Gunathilaka has scored 56 out of 44 and 38 out of 30, and was sent off on both occasions by Hasaranga. In the final, however, he may have to face another spinner before reaching Hasaranga. The stallions fielded Dhananjaya de Silva’s offspin at the top of the inning on Sunday, with excellent results, and perhaps they will do it again to particularly hit Gunathilaka.
Mohammad Amir against Avishka Fernando
If there is one team that Fernando enjoyed playing against in this tournament, it was the Gladiators. He scored 92 to 63 against them in the first game and 84 to 59 in the second. The stallions haven’t played them since Amir’s bowling came to life late in the championship stage, however, and Fernando was a nervous starter against the beat. If there is swing in the air, it forms as an intriguing battle.
Head to head
Essentially, this isn’t the same Gladiator outfit that Stallions played in the championship stage, but for what it’s worth, Stallions scored two wins by chasing 176 and 171.
The gladiators are sweating on the fitness of Chadwick Walton and Thushara. Walton, who pulled a hamstring, probably won’t play, but captain Bhanuka Rajapaksa said he would consider having Walton on the team if he were at least “75% fit”. Thushara, meanwhile, had played the semi-final with a small problem, which may have made the injury worse. It will be evaluated before the match.
Galle Gladiators (probable): 1 Danushka Gunathilaka, 2 Ahsan Ali, 3 Bhanuka Rajapaksa (capt.), 4 Azam Khan (sept.), 5 Sahan Arachchige, 6 Shehan Jayasuriya, 7 Chanaka Ruwansiri, 8 Dhananjaya Lakshan, 9 Mohammad Amir, 10 Lakshan Sandakan, 11 Nuwan Thushara
Stallions are believed to have a full team to choose from. It is likely that they will go with the same XI.
Jaffna Stallions (probable): 1 Avishka Fernando, 2 Johnson Charles (sept.), 3 Charith Asalanka, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Thisara Perera (capt.), 6 Dhananjaya de Silva, 7 Chaturanga de Silva, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Usman Shinwari, 11 Duanne Olivier
Statistics and curiosities
- The Galle Gladiators took their wickets at an abysmal average of 49.05 until their fifth game – easily the worst in the league. In their most recent four games they have taken their wickets at 18.78, which is easily the best.
- Wanindu Hasaranga threw 97 balls in his 33 LPL overs. This means that nearly half of his deliveries have been points or wickets. He only suffered eight sixes and nine fours.
- Danushka Gunathilaka’s 475 tournament count is 227 better than Stallions’ most prolific hitter Avishka Fernando.
- When the LPL franchises went on sale, Galle was the first to be acquired, by Quetta Gladiators owner Nadeem Omar.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is the ESPNcricinfo correspondent from Sri Lanka. @afidelf