There are four games left now in the inaugural Lanka Premier League. The final group game is between the Dambulla Viiking and the Colombo Kings tomorrow, which will determine the top places in the points table.
We'll be back for that match tomorrow. Be sure to join us.
Spare a thought for the Tuskers, who were eliminated on an inferior net run rate. The marquee overseas players they selected at the LPL draft pulled out, and they struggled to find foreign players to fill their squad. They also lost Sohail Tanvir who tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival in Sri Lanka, with Munaf Patel and Irfan Pathan, both retired players, being brought in. To their credit their experience helped the Tuskers, but the holes in the bowling attack and the middle order were too big to fill. They were unlucky to lose the opening game in a super over, that would have surely shaped their campaign differently, but when they regroup for next year, they'll have a lot of positives to work from. Dale Steyn came in too late, and it would be fair to say, if he had been there earlier a few of those loses could have gone the other way.
So cometh the hour, cometh the team -- the Galle Gladiators were the better side by some distance. Remember, they lost their first five matches and looked like they were the team that would not escape the trap door. Their captain Shahid Afridi left after three games, a set back that they couldn't quite overcome immediately. But the win against the Colombo Kings kept their hopes alive, and despite losing a game they were in control yesterday, they rallied together today, and completely blew away the Tuskers.
Danushka Gunathilaka is the Man of the Match for his 94 off 66 balls.
His efforts have not put the Galle Gladiators into the semi-finals, where they will play either the Dambulla Viiking or Colombo Kings, dependent on tomorrow's match between those teams. The loser of that game will face the Jaffna Stallions in the other semi-final, with the Stallions losing their last group match to finish in third.
The Tuskers didn't really give themselves a chance in this one, struggling to get runs early in their innings, and then losing wickets regularly. That was also because the Galle Gladiators were absolutely on point with the ball and their fielding. Mohammad Amir showed his class bowling 11 straight dot balls before conceding his first run. That surely rattled both openers, who fell to Amir's new ball partner Nuwan Thushara. Kusal Mendis sparked for them with 68 but with no support from any of the other batsmen, there was only so much they could do. And it was the same for their bowlers, who didn't have enough to defend but also came up against a Danushka Gunathilaka in the form of his life.
Galle Gladiators win by 9 wickets and qualify for the semi-finals of the LPL
Gunathilaka misses his chance at a century. Seemed like Ahsan Ali was going to bat out the last ball and give Gunathilaka, on 94, a chance to get his century but the final ball from Asela Gunaratne cuts in from outside offstump and beats the wicket-keeper and runs to the boundary. He deserved a hundred, but that was a fantastic innings from Gunathilaka. The target was only 127 and he took it upon himself to see that his team chased it down. He now has 462 runs in the tournament, which is 199 runs more than the second highest run scorer of the LPL. He has truly dominated this tournament with the bat.
Steyn concedes nine runs before a legitimate ball is recorded. Opens the over with a no-ball and then bowls a wide attempting to deny Gunathilaka maximizing the free-hit. Gunathilaka swats the next ball for six, but Steyn does well to bowl four dot balls before the batsmen take a single off the last ball. Galle Gladiators 118/6 in 16 overs, 9 required off 24 balls.
Gunathilaka punches another boundary on the off-side, and surely that's also punches their ticket for the semi-final. The Tuskers made a breakthrough but it's too late in the day to make any difference to the outcome. Galle Gladiators 107/1 in 15 overs, 20 required off 30 balls.
Finally a breakthrough
Zazai goes on one knee and swings, but completely misses and is bowled. He's been involved in a 100-run partnership but in truth has really struggled today. Hazratullah Zazai b Dilruwan Perera 20(34)
Gunathilaka hooks the second ball of the over for a six. Brings up the Gladiators 100. Those are the only runs off the over, as Pradeep various his pace and length. Galle Gladiators 101/6 in 14 overs, 26 required off 36 balls.
Dilruwan Perera for his last over.
Another difficult catch put down on the straight boundary. Zazai hammers this down the ground and Brendan Taylor makes a desperate attempt to take the catch but his diving effort is not good enough and the slips through his fingers. Three off that over. Galle Gladiators 95/0 in 13 overs (Target 127)
Nuwan Pradeep on for an over of pace
Gunaratne's first ball is hit over the midwicket boundary, but he comes back well and almost accounts for the wicket of Gunathilaka. The batsman miscued a drive with Dilruwan Perera running in from the long on boundary and getting a hand to the catch but drops it on impact. 10 off that over. Galle Gladiators 92/0 in 12 overs, 35 required off 48
Dilruwan Perera to bowl the next over.
Five runs off that Steyn over
Took a while to get through that over, with that break in play. 45 required off 54 balls. Galle Gladiators 82/0 in 11 overs
Asela Gunaratne conitnues. Can he finally make a breakthrough?
A delay here as Kusal Perera gets some medical attention. Seems to have hurt his knee fielding a bye. He's being stretchered off. Rahmanullah Gurbaz takes the keeping gloves and Steyn will continue his over.
Gladiators 77/0 at the half-way point
Zazai finally gets one off the middle of the bat and it flies for a six, his first of the innings. Outside of that Asela Gunathilaka gives just two singles. 50 required off 60 balls now. Galle Gladiators 77/0 in 10 overs
Dale Steyn back into the attack. He gave just eight runs off his previous two overs.
Six runs off the over
Dilruwan Perera reins things back, though he drifts one down the leg side and it beats everyone to run down to the fine leg boundary. Galle Gladiators 69/0 in 9 overs, 58 required from 66 balls.
Strategic time out called
That's the first over without a boundary or a six. Just five runs off it. Galle Gladiators 62/0 in 8 overs
Dilruwan Perera continues.
Gunathilaka continues his charge
Gets back to back boundaries off Irfan Pathan's first over, getting to his half-century in just 28 balls. Zazai in the meantime, has laboured for this 7 off 14 balls. 70 now needed in 78 balls. Galle Gladiators 57/0 in 7 overs
Asela Gunaratne introduced into the attack.
Danushka Gunathilaka on song today. Scoops Nuwan Pradeep for a six, and the over goes for eight. He's got 41 off 25 balls. Galle Gladiators 48/0 in 6 overs (Target 127)
Gunathilaka goes after Dilruwan Perera and gets three boundaries, all beautifully hit through long off and square, for his efforts. He's raced to 34 off 22 balls. Required runs now down to 87. Galle Gladiators 40/0 in 5 overs (Target 127)
The Gladiators chipped away
That small target has got a little bit more small with Gunathilaka taking two boundaries off that Pradeep over. Nine in all. Galle Gladiators 26/0 in 4 overs (Target 127)
Dilruwan Perera to bowl the first over of spin.
Dale Steyn is on the money again, with Hazratullah Zazai having little to work with. Flashes at the one ball that is outside the off-stump, but its quick so it only takes the top edge and runs to the third man boundary. Galle Gladiators 17/0 in 3 overs
Nuwan Pradeep comes in at first change
A cautious start to the over, with Gunathilaka straight driving an over-pitched delivery. A little less caution when he charges Vishwa Fernando's final delivery, but he's in such good touch that he cracks it in the gap square of the wicket. Nine runs of that over. Galle Gladiators 13/0 in 2 overs
Movement for Steyn in that first over, with the only runs coming off an inside edge that runs to the backward square leg boundary. Galle Gladiators 4/0 in 1 over
Vishwa Fernando to bowl the second
Dale Steyn will open the bowling to the tournament's leading run scorer Danushka Gunathilaka who is opening the batting with Hazratullah Zazai.
It's small chase for the Galle Gladiators, but funny things have happened in cricket before. Just a reminder, the winner gets the last semi-final spot, so one team's campaign ends tonight.
The Gladiators' bowling unit was brilliant all around. Everyone played a role and it's visible in the wicket column, where all except Bhanuka Rajapaksa had atleast one scalp. The tone was set early, with Mohammad Amir setting up two wickets for Nuwan Thushara, who was unlucky to pick an injury and was unable to finish his quota. Sahan Arachchige was also impressive, being more than a fill-in with his return of 2 for 21. The less said about the Kandy Tuskers' batting the better. No one was willing to get stuck in with only Kusal Mendis performing creditably with his half-century, which was half of what the entire team managed. They recovered from the two early wickets, but once Taylor was dismissed in the 10th over, it was all downhill. There was no intensity and this score is far below what they would have expected.
Kandy Tuskers bowled out for 126
Shehan Jayasuriya strikes off his first ball. Vishwa Fernando tries to flick a ball that's bowled at the pads. He misses and the appeal for lbw is turned down. The bowler is not convinced but they review it and it's three reds! Vishwa Fernando 0(1), Kandy Tuskers 126 in 19.1 overs
Double strike for Amir
Amir has been excellent tonight and his efforts are capped with two wickets in his final over. First has Dilruwan Perera caught in the deep off the fourth ball, before yorking Dale Steyn in the last ball of his quota. 2 for 11 in this four overs. Kandy Tuskers 129/6 in 19 overs
Shehan Jayasuriya to bowl the last over
Arachchige bowls out
He conceded 24 runs in his four overs, and picked up two crucial wickets. Kandy Tuskers 124/7 in 18 overs
Mendis caught on the boundary
Kusal Mendis targets Arachchige, with a six and a boundary, after Dilruwan Perera gets him on strikes. Tries to him over the long on boundary, but it's hit the toe end of the bat and Dhananjaya Lakshan takes the catch right on the boundary. Kusal Mendis c Dhananjaya Lakshan b Sahan Arachchige 68(42), Kandy Tuskers 124/7
End of the 17th over, Kandy Tuskers 113/6
Dhananjaya Lakshan completes his four over spell with figures of 2/32.
Sahan Arachchige will bowl the 19th over
Pathan is deceived by a slow ball yorker and is bowled. He was through the shot before the ball reached him and it snuck under the bat and onto the stumps. Irfan Pathan b Dhananjaya Lakshan 11(15)
Some good fielding on the fine leg boundary denies Kusal Mendis a boundary off the last ball of the over. That means there are only five runs off the six balls. Barring the odd misfield and the tough dropped catch, the Gladiators have improved their fielding today. Kandy Tuskers 109/5 in 16 overs
Dhananjaya Lakshan (3-0-28-1) to bowl his last over
100 up for Kandy Tuskers
It's taken a while, but the Tuskers get there in the 15th over. They negotiate Amir, who varies his length in that over which goes for five runs. Kandy Tuskers 104/5 in 15 overs, Kusal Mendis 56(37), Irfan Pathan 6(8)
With Nuwan Thushara out with an apparent knee injury, Bhanuka Rajapaksa turns to Sahan Arachchige to get some overs in. His two previous overs went for just eight runs.
Fifty for Kusal Mendis
Whacks the first ball for six, which takes him to 52 off 42 balls. In the disaster that has been unravelling around him, he's fought well, though he needs to bat on if the Tuskers want to make a competitive score. Sandakan's last over goes for 11 and he ends his four over quota with 1 for 41. Kandy Tuskers 99/5 in 14 overs
Rajapaksa turns to Amir to bowl the 15th over
Four off the over
Arachchige keeps it tight and has a wicket for it. Kandy Tuskers 88/5 in 13 overs
Kandy Tuskers five down!
It all works out perfectly for the Gladiators. Gunratne tries to sweep but misses the length and is hit on the front pad. Looked out but Gunaratne calls for a review. It's wasted on that chance, because it's three reds, and misfortune has created another breakthrough for the Gladiators. Asela Gunaratne lbw b Sahan Arachchige 12(8)
15 off the over
The most expensive of the innings, with three boundaries for the Tuskers. Danushka Gunathilaka misfields and gives up the first boundary, before Kusal Mendis and Asela Gunaratne, both pick on poor deliveries to get themselves another boundary each. This pair have scored 26 runs off the 11 balls they've batted together. Kandy Tuskers 84/4 in 12 overs
Kusal Mendis is closing in on a half-century. Bhanuka Rajapaksa turns to Nuwan Thushara to make a breakthrough, but the bowler pulled up short while running in. Sahan Arachchige will bowl instead.
A six to end the over
Kusal Mendis lap sweeps the last ball of Lakshan's over for six, and it flies over the deep backward sqaure leg boundary. 11 off that over. Kandy Tuskers 69/4 in 11 overs
Seams in and Prasanna is playing down the wrong line. Ball clips the bail and the experiment has backfired for the Tuskers.Seekkuge Prasanna b Dhananjaya Lakshan 1(3), Kandy Tuskers 584 in 10.2 overs
Asela Gunaratne comes out with a crisis at hand
Taylor drags on
It was a bit of a wayward over from Sandakan, with two wides before Taylor sweeps him for a boundary. Next ball is a little slower down the leg side, and Taylor tries to sweep but he's through the shot too early and the ball bounces off the glove onto the stumps. The over ends with a single. Brendan Taylor b Lakshan Sandakan 20(19), Kandy Tuskers 57/3 in 10 overs
Seekkuge Prasanna brought on, ostensibly, for some quick runs
Not a bad start at all for Arachchige
Goes for four runs off his first over. Kandy Tuskers have recovered at the early wickets, but they need to up the scoring a bit. Kusal Mendis has 28 off 23 balls while Brendan Taylor is on 16(16). Kandy Tuskers 50/2 in 9 overs
Umpire signals for the strategic time out
Kusal Mendis survives thanks to a dropped catch. A tough one though for Dhananjaya Lakshan who dives but can't quite hold onto it and the ball ricochets for a boundary. Only three singles otherwise, so it's a good over for the Gladiators. Kandy Tuskers 46/2 in 8 overs
Sahan Arachchige gets his first over of the tournament
Lakshan is far too short on a slower ball and Kusal Mendis waits for it and hooks it for six over fine leg. Another ten runs in that over for the Tuskers. Kandy Tuskers 39/2 in 7 overs
First over of spin courtesy Lakshan Sandakan.
29 runs in the powerplay
Rajapaksa bowls four good balls but Taylor releases the pressure with back to back boundaries. Not the greatest passage of play for the Kandy Tuskers who are 29/2 in 6 overs
Dhananjaya Lakshan to continue
A boundary to start the over, which is followed by a wide, but Dhananjaya Lakshan adjusts and there's only seven runs off the over. Kandy Tuskers 19/2 in 5 overs
Bhanuka Rajapaksa decides to bowl the last over of the powerplay. Could be the Tuskers' chance to get a move on.
Another excellent over from Thushara
A wicket and four runs in that over from Thushara. He and Amir have started so well tonight. We'll see the first bowling change though, with Dhananjaya Lakshan replacing Amir.
It was a wicket waiting to happen. Gurbaz has not looked comfortable at all today, and pushes early to a good length delivery that finds the edge to backward point. Rahmanullah Gurbaz c Shehan Jayasuriya b Nuwan Thushara 4(13), Kandy Tuskers 9/2 in 3.4 overs
Gurbaz can't connect on the first three balls and calls for a change of bats. He's lucky that the top edge two balls later lands between Amir and keeper Azam Khan, but finally finds the middle of the bat, driving the last ball for four. Kandy 8/1 in 3 overs
Nuwan Thushara will bowl his second over
An excellent follow up from Thusara
He follows up that maiden from Amir with an over that has five dot balls, including the wicket of Kusal Perera. He could have had back to back wickets, if he had a third slip in place, with Kusal Mendis' edge flying through and running to the boundary. Kandy Tuskers 4/1 in 2 overs
Kandy Tuskers 0 for 1
Bowls a yorker first up, and follows it up with a inswinging length ball which Kusal Perera tries to play across the line. Misses and he's plumb in front. Big blow for the Tuskers. Kusal Perera lbw b Thushara 0(2), Kandy Tuskers 0/1 in 1.2 overs
Kusal Mendis comes in at number three
A maiden from Amir
A close to perfect over from Mohammad Amir who was quick and found swing. Gurbaz tried charging him but got himself yorked. A good start for the Galle Gladiators. Kandy Tuskers 0/0 in 1 over
Nuwan Thushara, the 'Podi Malinga', to bowl the second over
Kumar Dharmasena officiates his first match of the LPL, alongside Hemantha Boteju.
The Galle Gladitors are out and so are the Kandy Tuskers' openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Kusal Perera. Mohammad Amir will bowl the first over.
For the Tuskers, they have been bolstered by the entry of Dale Steyn who was excellent yesterday, a boon to a department that was lacking quality. They have firepower in their batting line up but they haven't quite clicked. Rahmanullah Gurbaz lit up the opening night, but has been reckless in his approach since, often throwing his good starts away. Asela Gunaratne produced with both bat and ball yesterday in a man of the match effort, and they'll need that from him today, to beat a Galle Gladiators that has the quality but has lacked the performanace.
Danushka Gunathilaka has been consistently the best batsman of the LPL so far. He's the leading run scorer, with 368 runs with a tournament high average of 61.3 but has continued to lack support. Bhanuka Rajapaksa seems to have come to form in the last two matches, so the Gladiators will hope he can kick on, particularly today when they chase. In their bowling department Mohammad Amir has been the best bowler, but like Gunathilaka has lacked support in his department though Lakshan Sandakan and Dhanajaya Lakshan have done well in patches. Their fielding continues to be a concern, especially yesterday when dropped catches cost them.
These are the teams:
Galle Gladiators: Bhanuka Rajapkasa (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Ahsan Ali, Azam Khan, Hazratullah Zazai, Shehan Jayasuriya, Sahan Arachchige, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Lakshan Sandakan, Mohammad Amir, Nuwan Thushara
Kandy Tuskers: Kusal Perera (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Kusal Mendis, Brendan Taylor, Asela Gunaratne, Irfan Pathan, Dilruwan Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Nuwan Pradeep, Vishwa Fernando, Dale Steyn
The Tuskers and the Gladiators will play on the same pitch as the earlier match, and Russell Arnold predicts 170 as, again, being a match-winning score. That prediction came true in the earlier game, where the Colombo Kings scored 173/4 in their 20 overs, and restricted the Jaffna Stallions to 167/6 in reply.
Laurie Evans was the star in that game, scoring the tournament's first century, and following his lead -- of getting set first and then attacking -- will be crucial for batsmen in this game as well. Dew could also play a factor, which is why both teams had wanted to field first.
Ranjan Madugalle is today's match-referee for the first time in the LPL. He has the two captains with him.
The Galle Gladiators won the toss and elected to field first
The Kandy Tuskers have kept the same team from last night, while the Galle Gladiators have one forced change, with Hazratullah Zazai comes in for the injured Chadwick Walton.
The last time these two teams met, Brendan Taylor scored a half-century on his LPL debut, with the Tuskers scoring 196/5 and defending that to win by 25 runs. That was the Tuskers' first win of the tournament, before going on a three-game losing streak, which ended last night. The Gladiators on the other hand, lost their first five games, and yet kept their semi-final hopes alive with their emphatic eight-wicket win over the Colombo Kings.
The Kandy Tuskers have four points from their seven games while the Galle Gladiators have two, but with a slightly superior net run rate. Both teams played yesterday, with the Kandy Tuskers beating the Jaffna Stallions, while the Gladiators failed to hold on to fourth spot, losing to the Dambulla Viiking in a thrilling last ball finish. All that means, in short, is that it's winner takes all tonight.
We'll have toss in a short while.
Hello, hello and welcome to our live blog of this 19th match of the Lanka Premier League. We are in for a treat, with the Kandy Tuskers and the Galle Gladiators playing a virtual quarter-final, with today's winner claiming that last semi-final spot.