Finally, the Lanka Premier League has kickstarted. Galle Gladiators will play the second match of the league against Jaffna Stallions at Hambantota on Friday. The league, however, lacks a few well-known stars who have opted out of the tournament due to various reasons.
But nevertheless, any cricket is good entertainment in this pandemic after there were no matches since the outbreak broke out in March and sealed international borders, and shut down the world completely.
Galle Gladiators will start with a disadvantage as they will start without their captain and former Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi who missed his flight to the island nation. In his absence, vice-captain Bhanuka Rajapaksa is set to lead the side.
They are also without their star bowler in Lasith Malinga who has opted out as he is not ready yet for international cricket. Also, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Colin Ingram have opted out of the league.
Jaffna Stallions too have its share of worries, as a few bankable overseas stars in Ravi Bopara and Dawid Malan have withdrawn from the tournament. They will be led by Sri Lankan veteran all-rounder Thisara Perera, who comes with loads of T20 experience.
Here are the fantasy tips and predictions of the LPL match between Jaffna Stallions and Galle Gladiators.
Match Toss Time: 19:30 Local (19:30 IST)
Match Start Time: 20:00 Local (20:00 IST)
Match Venue: Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium, Hambantota
It's going to be hot and humid at Hambantota, with a maximum temperature of 31 degrees Celsius, and humidity at 75 percent. Hence, players need to ensure they are well-hydrated. But as the match is in the evening, it won't be much of a trouble for the players. But the dew factor could come into play. Hence, defending a target would be a tough task.
Teams will reportedly play on a new pitch in Lanka Premier League. But it will be a batsman's paradise anyway, except for some initial movement for the pacers. This ground has not produced tall scores, with the highest score being 182/4 in 7 T20Is, while all other scores being below 165. But it promises to be a good contest between bat and ball.
Galle Gladiators will miss the services of Afridi who missed his flight to the island nation and won't be able to play for a couple of matches as he needs to meet the quarantine requirements. But nevertheless, they have a few established overseas players in Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Amir to light up the match.
Besides, they have some quality local talent in Akila Dananjaya, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Danushka Gunathilaka to pose a tough challenge to Jaffna Stallions.
Jaffna Stallions look like a strong team on paper, with experienced T20 cricketers in Thisara Perera and Shoaib Malik to guide the team. Their pace bowling looks strong with Suranga Lakmal, Duanne Olivier, and Kyle Abbott taking up the spots.
However, a lack of quality overseas top-order batsman may be a hindrance, but nevertheless, they have enough local talent to make up for it.
Overall, it promises an exciting contest between the two teams.
Probable Playing Xl
Galle Gladiators (GG): Hazratullah Zazai, Ahsan Ali, Sahan Arachchige, Bhanuka Rajapaksa (C), Asitha Fernando, Mohammad Amir, Duvindu Tillakaratne, Azam Khan (WK), Danushka Gunathilaka, Akila Dananjaya, Chanaka Ruwansiri
Jaffna Stallions (JF): Avishka Fernando, Minod Bhanuka, Charith Asalanka, Nuwanidu Fernando, Thisara Perera (C), Dhananjaya de Silva, Shoaib Malik, Suranga Lakmal, Duanne Olivier, Kyle Abbott, Johnson Charles (WK).
GG vs JF Fantasy Team
Hazratullah Zazai, Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Azam Khan, Johnson Charles, Shoaib Malik, Thisara Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Mohammad Amir, Suranga Lakmal, Duanne Olivier.
Captain picks: Hazratullah Zazai (GG) and Thisara Perera (JS)
Vice-captain picks: Mohammad Amir (GG) and Shoaib Malik (JS)
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