Colombo Kings (CLK) take on Kandy Tuskers (KDT) in the inaugural match of the Lanka Premier League.
Led by the experienced Angelo Mathews, Colombo has a good middle order in Dinesh Chandimal and the swashbuckling Andre Russell.
They will depend on their pacers Isuru Udana and Manpreet Gony to strike at the top. Leggie, Jeffrey Vandersay will play a crucial role to control the run flow in the middle overs.
On the other hand, Kandy has a powerful batting lineup with the likes of Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis along with the veteran Brendan Taylor.
It will be interesting to see if Irfan Pathan will make an impact after being out of competitive action for a long time.
They also have a great set of fast bowlers in Munaf Patel and Nuwan Pradeep.
Colombo will have to get their opening combination right having missed key players like Faf Du Plessis and Mohammad Hafeez who pulled out at the last minute. Laurie Evans who top-scored for Surrey in the recently concluded Vitality Blast will aim to give a strong start.
Kandy has more experience on their side though they will be without Chris Gayle and Sohail Tanvir. Asela Gunaratne will look to get back on the selectors' radar after suffering frequent injuries in the past.
Pitch and Conditions
Hambantota will have a fresh strip and the batsman can play their strokes freely. The fast bowlers can generate some pace and movement at the early of the innings. With the dew factor expected to play a role, it is better to chase.
Probable Playing XI
Colombo Kings - Lahiru Udara, Laurie Evans, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Angelo Mathews(c), Ashan Priyanjan, Andre Russell, Isuru Udana, Manpreet Gony, Dushmantha Chameera, Qais Ahmed, Jeffrey Vandersay
Kandy Tuskers - Kusal Mendis, Asela Gunaratne, Kusal Perera(c & wk), Brendan Taylor, Kamindu Mendis, Irfan Pathan, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Vishwa Fernando, Munaf Patel, Nuwan Pradeep
Kusal Perera vs Isuru Udana
Perera is a fearless cricketer who can give flying starts. His signature shots are the square cut, the short arm jabs, and pick-up hits. He will have more responsibility now being the skipper and wicket-keeper of his side.
Fresh from a stint in the IPL, Udana is a useful seam-bowling all-rounder. He needs to control his economy rate though against a quality batsman like Perera. He has to maintain consistency if he wishes to make a positive impact on his side.
Dinesh Chandimal vs Nuwan Pradeep
Chandimal is a hard-hitting wicket-keeper batsman and a proven match-winner. He has played some fighting knocks in the past. He needs to improve his sluggish strike-rate though.
Pradeep is a quick bowler with a slingy action. He can generate good pace and has a dangerous outswinger. If he maintains his fitness, he can use the little swing on offer to his advantage. He will look to control the runs at the death overs.
Kandy has more balance on their side while Colombo would be heavily dependent on a few players to do the job. An opening win will give the much-needed momentum and confidence for both sides.
Cricwizz predicts Kandy Tuskers to win the match.