By Srian Obeyesekere
Jaffna Stallions opening batsman Avishka Fernando reeled of a 63-ball unbeaten 92 studded with 7 sixes and 5 fours sharing in an unfinished 110-run third wicket alliance with Pakistani Shoaib Malik 27 off 31 fashioning a comprehensive 8-wicket win with 3 balls to spare over Galle Gladiators in the second match of the Lanka Premier League on Friday at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium at Sooriyawewa, Hambantota. That was in reply to Galle Gladiators 175 for 8 off 20 overs having won the toss and elected to bat. The local boy from Moratuwa, having put on 35 for the first wicket with Minod Bhanuka (18 off 10, 2×6, 1×4) and 30 for the second wicket with Tom Moores (18 off 14, 3×4, found an able ally in the experienced Shoaib Malik in getting his side home in an innings of controlled aggression. Malik was content with just the solitary boundary in his supportive role. The win earned Jaffna Stallions 2 points.
The second day of the historic Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) staged local version of the Indian Premier League was as action filled day-night stuff as the opening scorcher that was won by Colombo Kings over Kandy Tuskers in the super over. There was world record breaking batsman Shahid Afridi, Captain of Galle Gladiators once again scripting the type of black magic gung-ho that made him the record breaker for the fastest ODI century when just 16 years. At age 40, Afridi displayed the same verve smashing 58 off just 23 balls in a sixes hitting spree – 6 over the top and 3 to the ropes. When he walked in, it was bad reading for the Gladiators who had lost their way – 5 for 93 in 13.3 overs. But that did not deter Afridi from setting about his trade mark shot making adding an invaluable 62 runs for the sixth wicket with Shehan Jayasuriya who made struck 17 off 11 laced with 2 sixes. The skipper was sixth out caught Moores bowled Oliver with the total on 155 after 18 overs.
Upfront opener Danushka Gunathilaka made the next best score of 38 off 30 deliveries hitting 7 boundaries. But that was as far as Galle Gladiators could get with 21 and 20 from Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Azam Khan respectively against some tight bowling by D. Oliver who picked 4 wickets for 44 in his 4 overs, well supported by local boy Wanidu Hasaranga who took 2 for 12. The day eventually belonged to Avishka Fernando, Player of the Match.
GALLE GLADIATORS 175/8 (20 Overs) RR: 8.75
(Shahid Afridi 58, Danushka Gunathilaka 38, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 21, Azam Khan 20, Shehan Jayasuriya 17, D. Oliver 4/44, Wanidu Hasaranga 2/12).
Fall of wickets: 1-24 (Chadwick Walton, 3.3 ov), 2-58 (Danushka Gunathilaka, 7.5 ov), 3-79 (Azam Khan, 11.2 ov), 4-92 (Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 13.1 ov), 5-93 (Milinda Siriwardana, 13.3 ov), 6-155 (Shahid Afridi, 17.6 ov), 7-166 (Mohammad Amir, 18.6 ov), 8-175 (Shehan Jayasuriya, 19.6 ov)
Did not bat: M. Shiraz, A.M. Fernando.
JAFFNA STALLIONS 176/2 (19.3 Overs) RR: 9.02
(Avishka Fernando n.o. 92, Shoaib Malik n.o. 27, Minod Bhanuka 18, Tom Moores 18, Mohammad Amir 1/29, M. Shiraz 1/38)
Fall of wickets: 1-35 (Minod Bhanuka, 3.2 ov), 2-66 (Tom Moores, 7.4 ov
Did not bat: N.L.T.C. Perera (C), D,M. de Silva, P.W.H. de Silva, K.J. Abbott, D. Oliver,
B. Fernando, P.C. de Silva.