LPL 2020 1ST SEMI-FINAL
By Srian Obeyesekere
Rising from the oblivion of tethering at the exit door to beating the odds to cantering to the semi-finals, the Galle Gladiators made a further giant leap to the finals of the 20-20 Lanka Premier League 2020 destroying table leader favourites Colombo Kings by 2 wickets with a ball to spare in a low scoring, down to the wire Day-Night thriller at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium. The once underdogs now stand a step away from the LPL trophy when they take on the winners of Monday’s Dambulla Vikings versus Jaffna Stallions second semi-final in the tournament deciding grand final on Wednesday the 16 at the same venue.
On a day the familiar big guns failed to fire bar the decisive match winning 17-ball 33 top score by Gladiators skipper Bhanuka Rajapaksa and 53-ball 70 by Colombo Kings Bell Drummond, Galle Gladiators held their nerve to override a 7 for 116 off 16 overs defeatist scenario chasing 151 spurred by No.8 Dhananjaya Lakshan’s unbeaten 31 off 23 as he hit the speed meter in a late flurry six and 2 boundaries.
BHANUKA CAPTAIN’S KNOCK OF 33 OFF 17
Full credit to Rajapaksa who reeled off 2 sixes and 3 boundaries after Danushka Gunathilaka had exited for 13 and Ahsan Ali for a duck in lifting his side from 2 for 17 to 57 in a 40-run third wicket alliance with Azam Khan 21 (13b, 3×4, 1×6) off 20 deliveries. The tight roped humdinger saw the Gladiators, as they had throughout the tournament, carve their way through the futility of tumbling wickets 1-13, 2-17, 3-57, 4-76, 5-77, 6-98 7-116 before spurting to 136 for 8 after 18 overs when Dhananjaya Lakshan and Lakshan Sandakan negotiated the 15 runs with a ball to spare to the magical final. That the dictate of the game was on an even keel with Colombo Kings too, put into bat, falling apart 1-3, 2-32, 3-57, 4-75, 5-99, 6-112, 7-123, 8-126, 9-150. The Colombo Kings would be ruing two dropped chances by Qais Ahmad in the decisive final phase.
DANIEL BELL DRUMMOND 70 IN LOST CAUSE
Colombo Kings pathway to making the final was blown away by the top order failing with only No.3 Daniel Bell Drummond carrying the fight to the Gladiators hitting 3 sixes and 7 boundaries. But their cause would not prosper with the next best score of 17 by No.10 Isuru Udana with only two others – Dinesh Chandimal 14 and Andre Russel 11 reaching double figures while skipper Angelo Mathews’ continued failure falling for 6 put paid to the Kings hopes of making it to the final. Full marks to the Galle Gladiators bowlers who performed superbly in freezing the opposition with Lakshan Sandakan’s spin doing the trick with 3 for 32 including the prize wickets of Angelo Mathews caught by Shehan Jayasuriya and the dangerous Andre Russel for 11 to a catch by Azam Khan. Player of the Match Dhananjaya Lakshan cleaned up Chandimal while having Thikshila de Silva caught by Ruwansiri for 6 for figures of 2 for 27 with Nuwan Thushara too claiming 2 for 27.
COLOMBO KINGS 150/9 (20 Overs) RR: 7.50
(Daniel Bell Drummond 70, Isuru Udana 19, Dinesh Chandimal 14, Andre Russel 11, Lakshan Sandakan 3/32, Nuwan Thushara 2/27, Dhananjaya Lakshan 2/27)
GALLE GLADIATORS 151/8 (19.5 Overs) RR: 7.74
(Bhanuka Rajapaksa 33, Dhananjaya Lakshan 31, Shehan Jayasuriya 22, Azam Khan 21, Danushka Gunathilaka 13, Ashan Priyanjan 2/42)