By M. Shamil Amit
Unbeaten Jaffna Stallions will look to maintain their unbeaten record when they confront Galle Gladiators in their Lanka Premier League (LPL) T20 Cricket Tournament second-round match at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium in Hambantota today, commencing at 3.30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Dambulla Viiking will clash with Kandy Tuskers in the second match of the day commencing at 8.00 p.m.
The Stallions, led by Thisara Perera defeated the same opponents by eight wickets when the two teams met earlier in a first-round encounter and they followed-up with wins against Dambulla Viiking and Kandy Tuskers.
The Gladiators were dealt a fresh blow yesterday when their captain Shahid Afridi left the tournament to be with his sick daughter. In Afridi’s absence, Bhanuka Rajapaksa will lead the team. They are yet to see the winning post having suffered defeats against Kandy Tuskers, Colombo Kings and Jaffna Stallions respectively. Stallions Skipper, Perera, is the leading run getter in the tournament and has so far accumulated 165 runs in his three innings with a top score of an unbeaten 97 against Viiking and a half century against the Tuskers.
The Stallions have the batting depth in the likes of Avishka Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva, Tom Moores, Shoaib Malik and Chaturanga de Silva who are be expected to make useful contributions.
Their bowling will revolve around Duanne Olivier, Perera, Usman Shinwari, Wanindu Hasaranga and de Silva.
The Gladiators’ trump card will be their opener Danushka Gunathilaka who has been the leading run getter of the side having so far scored 150 runs in his three innings with a top score of 82 against the Tuskers.
In the second match, Viiking led by Dasun Shanaka will be confident when they take on the Tuskers under lights.
Shanaka will be the cynosure of all eyes having accumulated 164 runs so far, inclusive of two half centuries with a top score of 73 against the Tuskers.
Shanaka will expect the support from openers, Niroshan Dickwella, Paul Stirling, Upul Tharanga and Samit Patel to bolster the scoreboard. On the other hand, the Tuskers led by Kusal Perera will look to avenge their previous defeat after having lost to the same opponents in their first-round outing.
Their batting responsibility will lie in the hands of Perera along with Kusal Mendis, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Brendan Taylor, Kamindu Mendis and Asela Gunaratne.
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