Match Preview – Gladiators vs. Stallions, 2020, Final

As the teams pile up

On the surface Galle Gladiators does not deserve to be in this final. They won only a third of their matches in the tournament, and their semi-final opponents suffered several injuries in Sunday’s nail. And yet, when you watch the attack, they suddenly managed to connect at the end of the tournament, you also can’t really envy them their place.

Dhananjaya Lakshan, who swings the ball in the right hand, and throws a collection of slower balls, may have been the find of the tournament. Nuwan Thushara, who throws it in his arms as Lasith Malinga, impacted with the new ball and at death. Lakshan Sandakan has found a T20 strategy that seems to work for him: often pushing the ball wide, and also bowling faster through the air than before. Mohammad Amir led the attack, enjoying the sweeping conditions the tournament has seen over the past week. As if by magic, gladiators have three of the top five goalkeepers in the tournament, Sandakan took 11 wickets, while Lakshan and Amir have 10 each.

And yet, in spite of that, Jaffna Stallions feels that their attack is still the best in the competition. Largely this depends on Wanindu Hasaranga, who was the average monster of the tournament, taking on 16 wickets and even more impressively, maintaining an economic rate of 5.27 through his 33 overs. To put that economic index into perspective, no other bowler who has taken a wicket in the LPL can come close to matching it. Batistas know it’s his joke they need to pay attention to, and yet it has perished en masse.

There is variety here as well. Usman Shinwari’s speed can be deployed almost anywhere in the inning. Duanne Olivier bowled much slower than he could, but worked on his control during the tournament. And as seen on Monday, Dhananjaya de Silva is a good support spinner, especially when bowling to left-handeders (Danushka Gunathilaka of Gladiators and Bhanuka Rajapaksa are both left-handed batsmen), and Shoaib Malik’s darts can be effective through the middle overs, and even at the death.

On the beating front, there is less on these sides. Gunathilaka was very attentive at the top of the inning for Galle, but although they set off for their modest goal on Sunday, that middle order still seems a bit weak. Stallions meanwhile had runs from Avishka Fernando and Thisara Perera throughout the course of the tournament, but there is no one in that grouping who could be said to be irresistible.

Be careful about

Gunathilaka v the spinners of Stallions

In the two previous matches against Stallions, Gunathilaka won 56 of 44 and 38 of 30, and was dismissed both times by Hasaranga. In the final, he may have to face another spinner before he even gets to Hasaranga, though. Stallions deployed Dhananjaya de Silva’s offense at the top of the inning on Sunday, great, and maybe they will do that again to target Gunathilaka in particular.