Jaffna Kings made no mistake this time to emerge the kings of the Lanka Premier League 2021 by bouncing back with a vengeance to avenging three previous defeats by delivering the final knockout punch when it mattered to retaining the championship title of the second edition by a 23-run triumph over arch rivals, the Galle Gladiators in the final at Hambantota’s Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium under lights tonight.
Batting first, Jaffna Kings amassed 201 for 3 wickets off 20 overs in a demolition of the Galle Gladiators bowling attack. The run assault was led by opening batsman Avishka Fernando who lashed 63 off 41 balls highlighted by 8 boundaries and 2 sixes in the wake of his glorious century against the Dambulla Giants in batting his side to the finals.
The final did reach an even keel when Galle Gladiators opener Danushka Gunathilaka carried the fight back with an electrifying 21-ball 54 laced with 3 sixes and 7 hits to the ropes that put the Gladiators in a winning position at 100 for 3 off 9 overs. But the rest of their frontline batsmen were a letdown with conspicuously skipper Bhanuka Rajapaksa failing to go beyond 14. The good work by Gunathilaka was undone when Galle Gladiators lost 3 wickets for 23 runs as they plunged to 123 for 4.
The rest of the Galle Gladiators batsmen were guilty of throwing out of the window Gunathilaka’s effort in the crunch final as the side’s cup title hopes faded away. The left-hander was so devastating that he dominated the strike so much that his partner Kusal Mendis had faced just three balls when Gunathilaka exited with the score 63. Mendis went on to make 39, the next best score before running himself out with the asking rate mounting and the Gladiators finishing on 178 for 9. Samit Patel struck 22 off 2 down the line inclusive of a six in that lost cause.
The Jaffna Kings run machine was at its best with Tom Kohler Cadmore coming to the party stroking 57* off 41 heightened by 3 over the top and 2 fours while Shoaib Malik struck a quickfire 23 off 11. Avishka Fernando put on 56 with Gurbaz for the first wicket off 5.2 overs, and 63 with Tom Kohler Cadmore for the second wicket off 7.2 overs.
Galle Gladiators were reduced from a position of strength by the De Silva brothers – Chathuranga 2 for 15 and Wanindu Hasaranga 2 for 30. (5) In the King-sized Jaffna Kings pot of gold champagne hurrah, the willow works of the 23-year old Avishka Fernando took centre piece playmaker spotlight in carrying away the Player of the Match and Player of the Season awards.