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Match Preview – Gladiators vs Stallions, 2020, Final

Match Preview - Gladiators vs Stallions, 2020, Final

How the teams stack up

On the surface Galle Gladiators don’t deserve to be in this final. They’ve won only a third of their matches in the tournament, and their semi-final opponents suffered several injuries in Sunday’s nail-biter. And yet, when you look at the attack they’ve suddenly managed to string together towards the end of the tournament, you can’t really begrudge them their place either.

Dhananjaya Lakshan, who swings the ball into the right-hander substantially, and bowls a collection of slower balls, has been perhaps the find of the tournament. Nuwan Thushara, who slings it round-arm like Lasith Malinga, has been effective with the new ball, and at the death. Lakshan Sandakan has found a T20 strategy that seems to be working for him: frequently pushing the ball wide, while also bowling quicker through the air than he used to. Mohammad Amir has led the attack, revelling in the swinging conditions the tournament has seen over the past week. As if by magic, Gladiators have three of the top five wicket-takers in the tournament, Sandakan having taken 11 wickets, while Lakshan and Amir have 10 apiece.

And yet, despite this, Jaffna Stallions feel their attack is still the best in the competition. Largely this is down to Wanindu Hasaranga, who has been the tournament’s middle-overs monster, taking 16 wickets in all and even more impressively, maintaining an economy rate of 5.27 across his 33 overs. To put that economy rate in perspective, no other bowler who has taken a wicket in the LPL can come close to matching it. Batsmen know it is his googly they have to watch out for, and yet have succumbed to it en masse.

There’s variety here too. Usman Shinwari’s pace can be deployed almost anywhere in the innings. Duanne Olivier has been bowling much slower than he is capable of, but has worked on his control through the course of the tournament. And as seen on Monday, Dhananjaya de Silva is a fine supporting spinner, particularly when bowling to left-handers (Gladiators’ Danushka Gunathilaka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa are both leftie batsmen), and Shoaib Malik’s darts can be effective through the middle overs, and even at the death.

On the batting front, there is less to these sides. Gunathilaka has been in searing touch at the top of the innings for Galle, but although they scrambled to their modest target on Sunday, that middle order still seems a little flimsy. Stallions, meanwhile, have had runs from Avishka Fernando and Thisara Perera through the course of the tournament, but there’s no one in that line-up that can be said to be in irresistible form.

Watch out for

Gunathilaka v Stallions’ spinners

In the two previous matches against Stallions, Gunathilaka made 56 off 44 and 38 off 30, and was dismissed on both occasions by Hasaranga. In the final, he may have to face a different spinner before he even gets to Hasaranga, though. Stallions deployed Dhananjaya de Silva’s offspin at the top of the innings on Sunday, to excellent effect, and perhaps they will do so again to target Gunathilaka in particular.

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