Galle Gladiators locks horns against Colombo Kings in the first semifinal of the Lanka Premier League.
The two teams met each other twice in the group stage with each side winning once.
Colombo topped the points table with six wins and just two losses. Galle won just two matches and lost six in the group stage.
Galle won their last match by nine wickets against Kandy Tuskers. Mohammad Amir was menacing with his four-over spell giving just 11 runs and taking two wickets. Galle would have been pleased with the form of Nuwan Thushara and Sahan Arachchige. Danushka Gunathilaka once again continued his purple patch with an unbeaten 94. Hazratullah Zazai needs to step up having hit a sedate 20 runs off 34 balls in the previous game.
Colombo won by six wickets against Dambulla Viiking. Chasing a huge target of 204, they were on the backfoot after Laurie Evans retired hurt on 53, but they found unlikely heroes in Ashan Priyanjan and Qais Ahmad who smashed 47 and 50 respectively.
They brought in a newcomer, Himesh Ramanayake but he was taken to the cleaners. Dushmantha Chameera was also expensive. Colombo must give more overs to Angelo Mathews. Andre Russell and Isuru Udana who were rested for the last game may come back for this match.
Pitch and Conditions
The chasing team has won four of the last five matches in Hambantota. Even totals exceeding 200 have not proved to be adequate. More runs are being scored in the death overs as the ball comes on nicely to the bat. Bowlers who use all their skills can reap the dividends. The weather is expected to be clear without any chances of rain. Dew will play a major role.
Probable Playing XI
Galle Gladiators (GGD): Danushka Gunathilaka, Hazratullah Zazai, Ahsan Ali, Bhanuka Rajapaksa (c), Azam Khan (wk),Shehan Jayasuriya, Sahan Arachchige, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Lakshan Sandakan/Akila Dananjaya, Mohammad Amir, Nuwan Thushara
Colombo Kings (CLK): Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Laurie Evans, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Lahiru Udara, Angelo Mathews (c), Andre Russell, Ashan Priyanjan, Thikshila de Silva, Qais Ahmad, Isuru Udana/Tharindu Kaushal, Dushmantha Chameera/Himesh Ramanayake
Danushka Gunathilaka (GGD) vs Isuru Udana (CLK)
Gunathilaka won the man of the match award in the last game for his unbeaten 94. He has scored the highest runs in this edition of the LPL with 462 runs in eight matches. He is an aggressive opener who can play shots all around the park. When he strikes big, Galle always wins.
Udana's nippy slow cutters can trouble Gunathilaka. The seamer is a wicket-taker who bowls an attacking line and length. He has a lot of variations up his sleeve and is good at adapting to different situations.
Laurie Evans (CLK) vs Mohammad Amir (GGD)
Evans retired hurt while playing on 53 in the previous match. He is the second-highest run-getter in the league with 289 runs in eight matches. He whacks the ball cleanly and is known for his fluent strokeplay. He is a bit weak against the short ball.
Amir got back his mojo with a brilliant spell in the last game. He is placed at the third spot in the most wickets table with 10 scalps to his credit. His nagging outswinger and deadly yorker are his main weapons. He can befuddle any batsman with his accuracy.
Colombo holds all the aces against Galle due to their superior record in the league so far. Galle huffed and puffed to make it to the playoffs. It will be a direct shootout between Colombo's deep batting line-up and Galle's wicket-taking bowlers.
Cricwizz predicts Colombo Kings to win the match