A combined bowling effort restricted Kandy Tuskers to merely 126. Danushka Gunathilaka’s unbeaten 94 off 66 balls then saw Galle Gladiators romp home by nine wickets in the 19th match of the tournament.
Gunathilaka has been in supreme form in LPL 2020 even as Galle Gladiators have blown hot and cold. On Thursday, he played yet another gem of an innings, hammering 12 fours and 4 sixes to land the knockout punch on Kandy Tuskers.
Even as Hazratullah Zazai struggled to get going, Gunathilaka raced away to his fifty off only 28 balls. He smashed three fours off Dilruwan Perera in the fifth over and scooped Nuwan Pradeep for a six as Galle Gladiators eased to 48 at the end of the Powerplay.
Even after Zazai perished for a forgettable 20 off 34 balls in the 15th over, Gunathilaka carried on. He launched a free-hit delivery from Dale Steyn over cow corner for six.
Having moved to 94 not out, with plenty of deliveries in store, Gunathilaka would have hoped to finish off with a six to reach three figures. However, stand-in wicket-keeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz conceded four byes to leave Gunathilaka stranded on 94, undefeated.
Galle Gladiators bowling throttles inefficient Kandy Tuskers
After winning the toss and deciding to bowl first, Nuwan Thushara struck crucial blows at the top. With his second delivery, the medium pacer trapped Kusal Perera lbw with one that came in.
Gurbaz’s poor run continued as he outside edged Thushara to backward point. At the other end, versatile left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir conceded only four runs in the first two overs, the first over of the match being a maiden.
There was no respite for Kandy Tuskers’ batsmen as Dhananjaya Lakshan, Sahan Arachchige and Amir himself got among the wickets to keep the batting side on the backfoot. Kusal Mendis’ 68 was the only score of note for a hapless Kandy Tuskers.
Brendan Taylor got to 20 before sweeping Sandakan on to the stumps. Seekkuge Prasanna was bowled through the gate by Lakshan for 1. Asela Gunaratne (12) was trapped in front of the stumps by Arachchige having missed a sweep.
At the other end, Mendis played a lone hand and brought up his 32-ball fifty in style, slog sweeping Sandakan over square leg for six. The stroke eventually led to his downfall on 68.
Amir picked up two wickets at the death to finish with sensational figures of 2 for 11.
LPL 2020 - Galle Gladiators vs Kandy Tuskers: Who was the Man of the Match?
Galle Gladiators’ thumping victory was set up by the bowlers for sure. Thushara’s two big blows at the top got them off to a perfect start. Amir kept the pressure on the Kandy Tuskers batsmen while Lakshan and Arachchige also picked up key scalps.
Gunathilaka’s dominating innings of 94 though saw him win the Player of the Match honour. With 462 runs in eight games, the Galle Gladiators star is the leading run-scorer in LPL 2020 by some distance. Kusal Mendis (263) is second on the list.