By Srian Obeyesekere
Opening batsman Avishka Fernando fired another decisive Player of the Match match 59-ball 84 as Jaffna Stallions rolled over the Galle Gladiators by 5 wickets, in a crescendo of four straight wins pocketing 8 points to take an unassailable lead in the 2020 Lanka Premier League, at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium at Sooriyawewa, Hambantota on Thursday. Fernando’s sixes filled knock hammering 5 over the top and 7 to the ropes made the Stallions victory chase look light finishing on 174 for 5 in 19.4 overs in the first D/N after the Gladiators had posted a challenging 170 for 6 off 20 overs having opted to bat on winning the toss. Fernando’s innings overshadowed the 56 by his opposite number Dhanushka Gunathilaka whose effort like his 82 against the Kandy Tuskers in their previous game ended in a lost cause.
Overly, the Jaffna Stallions showcased their all-round dominance in the tournament as a compatible cast of one or another delivering with the bat while the depth in the bowling department reflected the snuffing out power Thisara Perera’s team has displayed in dominating the tournament. There was the juggernaut on roll as slow bowler Wanidu Hasaranga picked 2 for 29 including the prize wicket of Gunathilaka while Dhananjaya de Silva accounted for gladiators skipper Bhanuka Rajapaksa for 1 and Shinwari sent back the dangerous looking Chadwick Walton who made a 14-ball 31.
Raising his hand to doing the job for his team with the bat was Minod Bhanuka in the pivotal No.3 slot charging to 40 off just 26 balls slamming 4 boundaries and a six. He perfected the 99 off 62-ball third wicket victory thrust with Avishka Fernando.
GALLE GLADIATORS 170/6 (20 Overs) RR:8.6
(M.D.Gunathilaka 56, C.A.K. Walton 31, Ahsan Ali 29, Azam Khan 25,
D. Lakshan n.o. 14, P.W.H.de Silva 2/29)
JAFFNA STALLIONS 174/5 (19.4 Overs) RR: 8.84
(W.I.A. Fernando 84, M. Bhanuka 40, P.W.H. de Silva n.o. 17, T.J. Moores 11, D.M. de Silva n.o. 5, A.M. Fernando 2/30)