Kings conquer Gladiators in hard-fought battle
Jaffna Kings beat Galle Gladiators by 23 runs in the LPL final to retain the championship at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, yesterday. Kings, led by Thisara Perera, lost to Gladiators three times in a row earlier in this tournament, but they bounced back to beat them now to win the title with a superb all-round performance.
Galle Gladiators, chasing a target of 202 runs, managed to get 179 for 9 wickets. Wanindu Hasaranga and Chaturanga de Silva took 2 wickets each for Kings, while Maheesh Theekshana took the wicket of Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who scored only 14 runs.
Galle Gladiators openers Danushka Gunathilaka and Kusal Mendis made a brisk start, with Gunathilaka leading the way to add 63 runs in just 4.2 overs. Gunathilaka made a blistering knock of 54 in 21, striking 7 fours and 3 sixes. However, Hasaranga soon made a breakthrough for Kings with back-to-back wickets in his first over, which was the fifth of the second innings. Gunathilaka was the first player to be dismissed, with Ben Dunk going out right after for a duck. Jaffna Kings came back strongly to take wickets and apply more pressure to their opponents.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Hafeez (10 runs in the 7th over) and Kusal Mendis (39 runs in 28 balls) were run out, putting Gladiators in deeper trouble. Jaffna Kings showed outstanding fielding capabilities all throughout.
Jaffna Kings chose to bat first. Their openers Avishka Fernando and Rahmanullah Gurbaz scored well to form a solid foundation for their team. Fernando, who scored a century in his most recent match, maintained good momentum along with Gurbaz, who especially struck back at the Gladiators’ fast deliveries. Gurbaz scored 35 runs in 18 balls until his wicket fell to a catch taken by Kusal Mendis.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore joined Fernando to build their Innings further, adding 63 runs to the team’s score. Fernando also scored 63 runs before being sent back to the pavilion. Nuwan Thushara took his wicked, together with Danushka Gunathilaka, who caught the ball mid-wicket.
Cadmore scored 62 runs, while Shoaib Malik hit 23 runs in just 11 balls. Skipper Thisara Perera added the finishing touches with 17 runs in 9 balls, hitting two sixes and a four off the last over bowled by Dhananjaya Lakshan. Gladiators’ had many shortcomings in their fielding, with several misfields and dropped catches, which ultimately paved the way for Jaffna Kings to pass the 200-run mark in this tournament for the third time.
Jaffna Kings: 201/3 in 20 overs (Avishka Fernando 63, Rahmanullah Gurbaz 35, Tom Kohler-Cadmore 57*, Shoaib Malik 23, Thisara Perera 17*, Mohammad Amir 1/40, Nuwan Thushara 1/33, Samit Patel 1/32)
Galle Gladiators: 178/9 in 20 overs (Kusal Mendis 39, Danushka Gunathilaka 54, Mohammad Hafeez 10, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 14, Samit Patel 22, Wanindu Hasaranga 2/30, Chaturanga de Silva 2/15)
Jaffna Kings team celebrate with the LPL trophy after their win over Galle. (Pix courtesy SLC)