Table-toppers Jaffna Stallions will take on bottom-placed Galle Gladiators in the Lanka Premier League (LPL 2020) afternoon clash at Hambantota on Thursday. Stallions have won all their three matches so far, while Gladiators are yet to open their account in three games.
Stallions have won their three matches comprehensively, beating Gladiators by 8 wickets, Dambulla Viiking by 66 runs, and Kandy Tuskers by 54 runs. Stallions captain Thisara Perera has led from the front, hitting 97 not out and 68 in his two innings, and has also taken 5 wickets so far.
Stallions have a good mix of local and overseas stars, adding depth to their squad. In the overseas department, they have veteran Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik, young Pakistan pacer Usman Shinwari, and South African bowler Duanne Olivier, and England keeper-batsman Tom Moores.
Meanwhile, Gladiators have been hit hard with the news that their skipper Shahid Afridi is set to return to Pakistan for a personal emergency. In his absence, Bhanuka Rajapaksa is set to lead the team.
Gladiators have had struggled despite the presence of Afridi who has led from the front in the 3 matches so far but has lacked support from the other end. With Afridi to miss the Stallions clash, it is going to prove a real challenge for Gladiators.
Match Toss Time: 15:00 Local (15:00 IST)
Match Start Time: 15:30 Local (15:30 IST)
Match Venue: Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium, Hambantota
The weather is going to be hot and humid on Thursday, with temperatures hovering around 25 degrees Celsius to 31 degrees Celsius. Rain is unlikely, and hence, a full match is possible.
As it is going to be an afternoon match, the dew factor will not come into play. And hence, the pitch is set to stay true throughout the game, and a run-feast is likely. But teams batting first have won 6 games out of 8, and hence, winning the toss and choosing to bat first would be the key.
Stallions are the most in-form team in the tournament so far, with captain Perera leading from the front. They have won three games in a row, and look on course to bag a spot in the knockouts.
However, they have a few worries due to an inconsistent top-order, with captain Perera has to do the repair job twice in three games. So, if Perera has a bad day, and the top-order fails to fire, Stallions would be in for trouble. And that's something the opposition would target at.
Gladiators have a lot of worries in their hands, with three losses in a row. With Afridi set to miss the Thursday clash, it is going to be a big setback for them. However, the team has to move on and concentrate on getting the first win with the limited resources they have. They also have to put up a team's effort rather than just individual brilliance.
Probable playing XI:
Jaffna Stallions (JFS): WIA Fernando, M Bhanuka, TJ Moores (keeper), DM de Silva, Shoaib Malik, PC de Silva, NLTC Perera (captain), PWH de Silva, RAS Lakmal, Usman Shinwari, D Olivier.
Galle Gladiators (GGD): MD Gunathilaka, Hazratullah Zazai, Azam Khan (keeper), PBB Rajapaksa (captain), TAM Siriwardana, GSNFG Jayasuriya, M Shiraz, A Dananjaya, Mohammad Amir, PADLR Sandakan, Abdul Nasir.
JFS vs GGD Fantasy Team
Danushka Gunathilaka (GGD), Avishka Fernando (JFS), Hazratullah Zazai (GGD), Azam Khan (GGD), Thisara perera (JFS), Dhananjaya de Silva (JFS), Shoaib Malik (JFS), Akila Dananjaya (GGD), Mohammed Amir (GGD), Usman Shinwari (JFS), Duanne Olivier (JFS)
Captain picks: Thisara Perera (JFS), Bhanuka Rajapaksa (GGD)
Vice-captain picks: Shoaib Mallik (JFS), Mohammad Amir (GGD)
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