Match Preview – Gladiators vs. Stallions, 2020, Final

How the teams stack up

On the surface Gall gladiators Don’t deserve to be in this finale. They only won a third of their matches in the tournament and their opponents in the semifinals suffered multiple injuries on Sunday. And yet, if you look at the attack they suddenly made towards the end of the tournament, you can’t really give them their place.

Dhananjaya Lakshan, swinging the ball significantly into his right-hander and throwing a collection of slower balls, may have been the find of the tournament. Nuwan Thushara, throwing it around his arm like Lasith Malinga, was effective with the new ball and on death. Lakshan Sandakan has come up with a T20 strategy that seems to work for him: often pushing the ball far while bowling through the air faster than before. Mohammad Amir led the attack and was delighted with the rocking conditions of the tournament over the past week. As if by magic, Gladiators have three of the top five wicket takers in the tournament, with Sandakan taking 11 wickets while Lakshan and Amir have 10 apiece.

And nevertheless Jaffna stallions I think her attack is still the best in the competition. This is largely thanks to Wanindu Hasaranga, who was the middle-overs monster of the tournament, taking 16 wickets in total and being even more impressive, maintaining a savings rate of 5.27 on his 33 overs. To put this savings rate in perspective, no other bowler who has taken a wicket in the LPL can come close to keeping up. Batsmen know that his luck is to be looked out for, and yet they have succumbed to him en masse.

There is also variety here. Usman Shinwari’s pace can be used almost anywhere in the innings. Duanne Olivier has bowled a lot slower than he can but has worked on his control over the course of the tournament. And as seen on Monday, Dhananjaya de Silva is a good supportive crank, especially in left-handed bowling (gladiators Danushka Gunathilaka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa are both left batsmen), and Shoaib Malik’s arrows can be through middle overs and even effective on death .

On the front line there is less on these sides. Gunathilaka were in scorching touch at the head of the innings for Galle, but despite fighting to their humble goal on Sunday, that middle order still seems a little weak. The stallions have had runs from Avishka Fernando and Thisara Perera over the course of the tournament but there is no one in this line-up who can be said to be in irresistible shape.

Watch out for

Gunathilaka versus stallion spinner

In the previous two games against Stallions, Gunathilaka made 56 out of 44 and 38 out of 30 and was sacked by Hasaranga on both occasions. In the final, he may have to face another weirdo before he even gets to Hasaranga. The stallions used Dhananjaya de Silva’s offspin at the head of the innings on Sunday with excellent effect and perhaps they will do so again to target Gunathilaka in particular.