20-20 LPL 2020 1ST SEMI FINAL
By Srian Obeyesekere
The wending way of the historic 20-20 Lanka Premier League 2020 to that ultimate culminating showdown stage with the Colombo Kings taking on the Galle Gladiators in the Sunday Day-Night first semi-final shootout at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium at Sooriyawewa, Hambantota, is the heightening trapping to the mega tournament set to produce the champions.
Shootout is the heightening slogan word to this first decider to the finals given the the league stage progress that has seen an absorbing intensity build-up between the five contestants to get there to the final spoils. While table leaders Colombo Kings have commandingly resurrected from a low that saw Angelo Mathews’ charges lose their way midstream giving way to the Jaffna Stallions galloping to the top of the table, the Galle Gladiators rising from the dumps when their championship title hopes looked good as over following a lean run for the good part of the tournament and with their ace in the pack, skipper Shahid Afridi having to head back home, has indeed been a turning point in that run up to the tournament final stakes reckoning. The Colombo Kings resurgence has been mainly due to the all-round depth of the side that produced some star actors in Dinesh Chandimal making his presence count to Englishman Laurie Evans firing with the bat and well backed up by Ashan Priyanjan and Thikshila de Silva and the all-round depth of Qais Ahmad who mans a backed by a well-oiled bowling attack to getting there. In contrast, the Galle Gladiators spurt from nothingness to raising their hands for the big spoils has mainly been due to the singular showmanship of opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka who has indeed done it for his side in typical gladiator style. That the 29-year old left hander has turned the lost causes into a point of the glitter of his side standing two steps away from the LPL trophy glitter by his batting heroics is truly a fairytale success story of the Galle Gladiators as they come into the decisive semifinal. The side can also take heart that their step in skipper Bhanuka Rajapaksa, known for his big hitting, has raised his hands with some positive knocks in the final run up to the big showdown.
In the final equation, while Colombo Kings have the edge for their all-round fire power, the Galle Gladiators is a worthy semi-final entrant capable of producing the defining gladiator type of cricket that has got the m there in the final countdown.