It is the ice cool pre-match hype to the grand finale – the calm before the storm. It is the Galle Gladiators versus the Jaffna Kings in that calm flexing of their muscles in their camps in a size up of each other before they let go in that final fling.
Indeed, the final build up to top flight finals is the charged up lending intensity that robes the game of cricket in its splendour of that fascinating throwback to ensuing big stake showdowns. That Sri Lanka Cricket’s big show – the Lanka Premier League 2021 has journeyed in such a fitting captivating climax is reflected in the historic bringing together of local and foreign player talent in a new vista to the game on Sri Lankan shores.
It is in such a milestone fèstered chapter that has opened a big window to driving the game that Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s and Thisara Perera’s teams battle it out at Hambantota’s Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium.
That galvanising, charged up atmosphere to the final crack between the two finalists is manifested in quite a significant history. For one, it is a repeat meet up of the two sides in the finals as in the first edition of the LPL. Outcome-wise, past results carry a bearing to both sides. Jaffna Kings are the reigning champions though they have undergone a slight name change from last time when they were tagged the Jaffna Stallions. But then, this time, the Galle Gladiators have beaten their opponents on the trot on four occasions. In that backdrop, Rajapaksa’s Galle Gladiators certainly enjoy a distinct edge over Thisara Perera’s Jaffna Kings given the fact that they were cleanly beaten all four times. Therein, the Gladiators go out the favourites to land the jackpot to wear the big crown. It will certainly put the onus on Thisara Perera and his team to come out of that defeatist hoodoo.
Of course, finals are so special to dictating new trends for the intensity it brings to a contest and could be an altogether different ball game. From a Kings standpoint, for all purposes, they are the Kings having got the better of their rivals in the finals.
In the final countdown, the type of cricket displayed by the two sides does put them on an even keel where the final outcome would be a tough prediction. The Galle Gladiators simply swamped the Jaffna Kings on an imposing total of 188 for 5 with openers Kusal Mendis pounding 88 off 53 balls and Danushka Gunathilaka 55 off 42 in setting up a tournament record partnership of 121 runs in sweeping to the finals. On the heels of it, the Jaffna Kings produced an even more awesome batting display of 210 for 4 with openers Avishka Fernando, a 64-ball 100 and Rahmanulla Gurbaz 70 off 40 in destroying Dambulla Giants to romping to the finals.
In the final analysis, if the lead-up form mood of the two sides in their last outings is an indication to go by, again it boils down to anybody’s guess where it would be based on the better bowling side that would give the Gladiators the edge.
Indeed, the final carries the trappings of a showdown between two sides that boast of several aces in the pack where the Gladiators would be extra buoyed by the awesome form of Kusal Mendis and his opening partner Danushka Gunathilaka.