Dhananjaya Lakshan was named Man of the Match, after taking 2 for 27 and then making an unbeatem 31 which took his team to victory
By M. Shamil Amit
Two dropped catches in the last two overs – both dropped by Qais Ahmad – dashed the hopes of one of the pre-tournament favourites of the Lanka Premier League (LPL), with the Galle Gladiators recording a thrilling two-wicket win against the Colombo Kings in the first semi-final played at the Sooriyawewa Stadium in Hambantota yesterday.
As much as the dropped catches may have cost the Kings, credit cannot be taken away from Dhananjaya Lakshan, who turned out to be the Gladiators’ hero as he made an unbeaten 31 off 23 balls to guide the side to a thrilling victory.
The chances of the Galle Gladiators, who came into the semi-finals as the fourth ranked team, were bleak at the halfway stage of their 151-run chase. They were in a spot of bother at the end of the tenth over with five of their top batsmen back in the pavilion with the scoreboard reading 83.
At the end of the 16th over the Gladiators were still struggling but useful knocks by Shehan Jayasuriya and Dhananjaya Lakshan and later Lakshan Sandakan, who struck the winning runs, saw them get the 15 runs they needed in the last over which was bowled by the experienced Isuru Udana.
Lakshan slammed a six in the third ball before Sandakan cracked a boundary in the penultimate ball to guide the side to the final.
Earlier in the day Colombo Kings invited to take first lease of the wicket were made to struggle for their runs as they were almost bogged down by some tight bowling after the spinners were introduced.
They had an inauspicious start losing their first wicket in the first ball of the second over with the score on three. The Gladiators spinners bogged them down and before they reached the halfway stage of the innings they lost two crucial wickets that of Dinesh Chandimal and skipper Angelo Mathews and were struggling on 63 for 3 in the 10th over.
Daniel Bell-Drummond who made a top score of 70 in 53 balls that included seven boundaries and three sixes was the only batsman to put in some resistance with the next best contribution being from Udana late in the innings with 19 but they managed to end with a respectable score of 150 whilst making 87 runs in the last ten overs.
Galle Gladiators will meet the winner of the second semi final between Dambulla Viking and Jaffna Stallions due to be played today from 7.00 p.m. onwards at the same venue.