The inaugural National Super League (NSL) four-day cricket tournament final between Kandy and Jaffna will commence today (7) at the Galle International Cricket Stadium. Kandy, led by young all-rounder Kamindu Mendis have a very strong batting lineup while experienced all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva leading the Jaffna side have a strong bowling lineup and this final is going to be a battle between Kandy batters and Jaffna bowlers.
The Jaffna side coached by Thilina Kandamby already won the NSL Limited Overs tournament defeating the same opponent Kandy by 37 runs at Pallekele. The two teams met at the League round of the 4-day tournament earlier in Pallekele, Kandy took major honors with first-innings points over Jaffna, and this final 4-day game once again going to be exciting with the presence of National players for both sides. Especially Jaffna regular skipper Dhananjaya de Silva has not played at last League game against Kandy as well as limited over final due to his National team commitment and De Silva’s presence give much confidence for Jaffna team. In the meantime, wicketkeeper batter Niroshan Dickwella and leg spinner Lasith Embuldeniya once again joined Kandy which always gives more strength to the side’s batting and bowling department and that is a good advantage for them.
The Kandy team coached by Malinda Warnapura have the services of the best batting lineup of the tournament which was led by skipper Kamindu Mendis. The 23-year-old Mendis is the most successful player leading among the batters with the highest total of 799 runs in five matches with four centuries and also maintaining a 79.90 average while Oshada Fernando is the second-best batter of the tournament having 603 runs with three centuries and Lahiru Udara already having 462 runs with five half tons.
All-rounder Sahan Arachchige who is doing a good job in the middle order having 372 runs with a century is always been a big challenge for Jaffna bowlers. Asitha Fernando the paceman having 15 wickets lead the Kandy bowling department while young off-spinner Ashian Daniel has 13 wickets with best figures of 5 for 75 and experienced leggie Lasith Embuldeniya and Sahan Arachchige give more strength to the Kandy bowling department. Meanwhile, Kandy expected to add additional leg spinner Pulina Tharanga to the team.
Meanwhile, Jaffna came to this big game after beating Colombo by 9 wickets at the semi-final once again hoping to pose a good challenge to win a double after having NSL limited over the title. Skipper Dhananjaya de Silva played only two matches in this tournament but he is having 11 wickets with best figures of 5 for 48 with his off-spin while experienced paceman Nuwan Pradeep recorded best figures of 7 for 52 in their semi-final against Colombo is expected to make the early breakthrough at this Galle wicket to have a good battle against Kandy.
Jeffrey Vandarsay and young Dilum Sudeera the two-leg spinners also expected to get good support from the Galle wicket which is normally favoured for spinners. Jaffna openers 19-year-old Navod Paranavithana and Nishan Madushka have big reasonability to make a good start in this final.
Their key stroke maker Saminda Fernando scored a fighting century at the semi-final and already has 451 runs with an average of 56.37 while Janith Liyanage, skipper Dhananjaya de Silva, and Sadeera Samarawickrama have the responsibility to build up the innings.
The paceman Nipun Malinga who made his career-best knock of 80 in 84 balls with 6 fours and 6 sixes at the semi-final give additional advantage to the Jaffna low order. The champion will receive Rs. 5,000,000 while runner up will receive Rs.2,500,000. In addition, the Player of the Tournament will receive Rs. 5,00,000 and the Best Bowler and Best Batter of the tournament will receive Rs. 250,000 each.
Best batting performances of the tournament
1. Kamindu Mendis (Kandy)799 runs , 2. Oshada Fernando (Kandy)603 runs , 3. Lahiru Udara (Kandy) 462 runs , 4. Saminda Fernando (Jaffna) 451 runs , 5. Pabasara Waduge (Galle) 421 runs, 6. Minod Bhanuka (Dambulla) 418 runs.
Best bowling performances of the tournament
1. Prabath Jayasuriya (Colombo) 26 wickets , 2.Malinda Pushpakumara (Dambulla ) 24 wickets , 3.Asitha Fernando (Kandy) 15 wickets , 4. Chanaka Ruwansiri (Galle ) 15 wickets , 5. Lakshitha Manasinghe (Colombo) 15 wickets ), 6. Akila Dhananjaya (Galle) 14 wickets , 7. Ashian Daniel (Kandy ) 13 wickets , 7. Suminda Lakshan (Galle) 13 wickets.