Lanka Premier League (LPL) has been enthralling cricket fans with entertaining contests since it began on November 27. In Match Number 4 (Galle Gladiators vs Colombo Kings), Andre Russell lit up the whole tournament by playing a majestic innings of 65* in just 19 balls.
Colombo Kings eventually managed to defeat the Galle Gladiators team easily due to Russell's blistering knock.
The Shahid Afridi-led Galle Gladiators team is currently languishing at the bottom of the LPL 2020 points table after two successive defeats. Their net run rate has also deteriorated considerably due to the heavy losses incurred by them.
Galle Gladiators still have six games to play in the league stage. They need to regroup quickly and play a consistent brand of cricket to reach the knock out stages of the tournament. They also have to keep an eye on their run rate, as it is -1.622 at the moment.
They face Kandy Tuskers in the next match on Monday. Currently, Kandy Tuskers are in fourth place in the points table, just above the Galle Gladiators, having lost both their matches as well.
Galle Gladiator's batting department has actually performed quite decently so far. Skipper Afridi hit a spectacular knock of 58 in just 23 balls in their first match, and opener Gunathilaka has also chipped in with a couple of useful '30s in both their games.
All the other batsmen have supported these two with handy knocks. However, it is their bowling department which has been letting them down.
Mohammad Amir was taken to the cleaners by Russell in their previous match. Team management will hope for better performance from the stalwart in the upcoming game.
Amir, along with Afridi, has to lead the young bowling attack of Galle Gladiators. Since the last game was a truncated five-over contest, Galle Gladiators will mostly stick with the same team combination for this match.
Kandy Tuskers, on the other hand, have been unlucky to be in the fourth position as they have played good cricket in both their matches.
In the first game of the tournament, they lost to Colombo Kings in a super over. Dreaded DLS foiled their chances in the second match as they lost the encounter against Dambulla Viiking by four runs.
They will hope for better luck in the remaining six matches. Star Sri Lankan wicket-keeping batsmen Kusal Perera is the franchise skipper and played a brilliant knock of 87 in the first innings of the opening match of the season.
His individual performances will play a crucial role in his team's fortunes in the tournament.
Seasoned campaigners Brendan Taylor and Munaf Patel will be available for selection on Monday as they have completed the mandatory quarantine. They will most likely feature in the playing XI for the Kandy Tuskers.
Young pacer Kaveeshka Anjula has been very expensive in both the games so far conceding 44 and 48 runs respectively. Munaf Patel will ideally replace Anjula in the playing XI, while Priyamal Perera might make way for Brendan Taylor in the middle order.
Kandy Tuskers Ideal XI: Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Kusal Perera(w/c), Kusal Mendis, Brendan Taylor, Asela Gunaratne, Seekkuge Prasanna, Nuwan Pradeep, Naveen-ul-Haq, Kamindu Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Munaf Patel
Galle Gladiators Ideal XI: Danushka Gunathilaka, Hazratullah Zazai, Azam Khan(w), Dhananjaya Lakshan, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Milinda Siriwardana, Shahid Afridi(c), Shehan Jayasuriya, Mohamed Shiraz, Mohammad Amir, Asitha Fernando