Galle Gladiators stopped the high riding Jaffna Kings tournament domination winning streak by a compelling 20-run triumph over the table leaders tonight in the first game under lights in a subtle reminder of what to expect in the run up to the grand final of the Lanka Premier League 2021 at the R. Premadasa Stadium.
With a growing spectator rush by the day to catch the action, the much hyped up clash in the culminating lead up to the last four playoff when the action would shift to Hambantota in the mega tournament, Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s Galle Gladiators effectively brought down Thisara Perera’s team from an unassailable glow of six wins on the trot.
Only yesterday, the Jaffna Kings had clinically rolled over veteran Angelo Mathews’ team that had the previous day threatened big things by a last gasp win by an extraordinary batting display by Seekkuge Prasanna. But this final tournament gallop that has witnessed marked reversals in a double hash up that followed of those two winners, there were the Kings sent tumbling down from their throne by the Galle Gladiators. But the Kings would remain to fight it out another day for the big trophy stakes by virtue of the unassailable 12- point high from where Thisara and his charges are looking down from at the rest.
The day, as it turned out to be belonged totally to Bhanuka and his Gladiators. There he was, the pinch-hitting left-hander leading from the front with a 25-ball 23 in a total of 129 for 8 off 20 overs in a typical showdown of the might of strength of the aces in the two packs.
Indeed, Bhanuka Rajapaksa had decisively led from the front in calling the shots to the annointing of the Player of the Match award.
There was opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka contributing 19 from 32 in that tight contest that saw the Kings Praveen Jayawickrama with 2 for 21 and Viyaskanth, the Jaffna native into the action with 2 for 21 and Riaz Wahab 2 for 31 among the wickets.
In that ensuing low scoring affair, the high point of it was the Gladiator command Bhanuka and his charges unleashed in simply destroying the mighty Kings run machine that had taken apart opposing teams. All that the Kings could bring to the table was a meagre 109 in an undoing in 18.3 overs against a concentrated Galle Gladiators attack. Even the Kings Pakistan star, the Mr. Reliable to their spoils, could not carry the side through though top scoring with 23.
Holding sway with the ball in a combinative thrust were Noor Ahmad 2 for 12, Samit Patel 2 for 15, with Ameer, Hafeez and Sahan Arachchige a wicket apiece.