True to their title, the Galle Gladiators stormed to the Lanka Premier League final in gladiator style by firing out of the line tournament dominators Jaffna Kings by 64 runs in tonight’s second playoff under lights at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium at Sooiyawewa, Hambantota.
It took the fizz off the Jaffna Kings in what was a third clean humiliation of the table leaders who had flattered and faltered in a mighty bringing down engineered by Kusal Mendis who belted a Player of the Match 53-ball 85 and Danushka Gunathilaka who struck 55 off 42 balls. Their sizzling stroke-play in a 121-run record tournament highest partnership for the first wicket off 80 balls put the Jaffna Kings out of the contest from the very outset in totalling an imposing 188 for 5 after taking first lease on winning the toss.
Mendis, making a sensational return from a suspended 2-year discipline related ban, smote 4 sixes and 7 boundaries while Gunathilaka, too from a similar ban related return, struck 6 boundaries and a six in taking apart the Jaffna Kings attack. Skipper Bhanuka Rajapaksa completed the final assault banging 25 off 14 laced with 3 sixes.
Jaffna Kings were bowled out for 124 in 16.5 overs with left-arm quick Nuwan Thushara returning the impecable figures of 5 for 13 off 3.5 overs.
The Player of the Match rounding off words by Kusal Mendis that ‘I practised daily at the SSC nets is what put me in the right rhythm for the big knock’ did underline the Gladiators terrific preparations to getting there.