By M. Shamil Amit
The Jaffna Stallions outclassed the Galle Gladiators by 53 runs in a one-sided final to claim the inaugural Lanka Premier League title, at the Sooriyawewa Stadium in Hambantota on Wednesday.
A wicket in the first over, that of Hazratullah Zazai, and the unfortunate run out of man in form Danushka Gunatilaka in the second over, with just three runs on the board, put the Galle Gladiators on the back foot in their chase of the 189-run target.
The Gladiators were unable to recover from the early double blow and fell into deeper trouble when they lost the wicket of Ahsan Ali, having added another four runs to their tally.
A spirited partnership between the Gladiators’ captain Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who made a heroic attempt to bat despite being in significant pain, and Shehan Jayasuriya of 55 runs for the fourth wicket gave the Galle team some hope, but when Rajapaksa fell with the score on 62, there was still some way left for the Gladiators to go.
They lost Jayasuriya 14 runs later, slipping to 76 for 5.
Only Azam Khan, who chipped in 36 runs, and Sahan Arachchige were able to put in some resistance and though they batted the full 20 overs they were able to only muster a score of 135 for the loss of 9 wickets
Earlier, Jaffna Stallions skipper Thisara Perera won the toss and elected to bat first, with openers Avishka Fernando and Johnson Charles giving them a solid start putting on 44 runs in 28 balls before Charles was dismissed having made 26 in 15 balls.
Fernando and Charith Asalanka did not last long adding 22 runs for the second wicket, before Asalanka was dismissed by Lakshan Sandakan and Fernando fell victim to Arachchige for 27.
At the halfway stage of the innings the Stallions were 77 for 3, before Shoaib Malik and Dhananjaya de Silva put on the best partnership of the innings, with 69 runs in just 43 balls.
After both batsmen were dismissed it was left for Perera to add some late runs, and he did with 39 off 20 balls.
Skipper Perera who was on 12 when Malik was dismissal added 27 more runs to his tally to remain unbeaten on 39 which came off 20 balls with two boundaries and two sixes for the Stallions to end their innings with a challenging score of 188.