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After three weeks of thrilling cricket, we into the finals of the Lanka Premier League (LPL 2020) as Galle Gladiators lock horn against Jaffna Stallions. 

The two teams met each other twice in the group stage with Jaffna winning both the matches comprehensively. 

Team News 

Galle has been the underdogs of the league. They won just two out of eight matches in the group stage but still managed to make it to the playoffs. They stunned the table toppers, Colombo Kings in the semifinals. Restricting them to a below-par score of 150, the match went down to the wire and Dhananjaya Lakshan rose to the big occasion hitting an unbeaten 31. 

Jaffna defeated Dambulla Viiking by 37 runs in the semis. Johnson Charles kept his best reserved for the crucial match hitting a blistering 76. The middle-order batsmen got out cheaply in their bid to accelerate the scoring. Wanindu Hasaranga was the star with the ball taking three wickets for just 15 runs. He got good backing with Dhananjaya de Silva who kept things tight at the start.

Pitch and Conditions 

The chasing team has won three out of the last four matches. Even totals above 200 are not considered adequate if the bowlers have an off day. If the top order fires,  the team batting first has a great chance to become victorious. Dew will play a major role in deciding the outcome of the match. 

Probable Playing XI

Galle Gladiators (GGD): Danushka Gunathilaka, Ahsan Ali, Bhanuka Rajapaksa (c), Azam Khan, Sahan Arachchige, Chanaka Ruwansiri/ Milinda Siriwardana, Shehan Jayasuriya, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Mohammad Amir, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Thushara

Jaffna Stallions (JST): Avishka Fernando,  Johnson Charles (wk), Charith Asalanka/Minod Bhanuka,  Thisara Perera (c), Shoaib Malik, Chaturanga de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dhananjaya de Silva, Suranga Lakmal, Usman Shinwari, Duanne Olivier

Key Battles

Bhanuka Rajapaksa (GGD) vs Wanindu Hasaranga (JST)

Bhanuka Rajapaksa Wanindu Hasaranga LPL
Bhanuka Rajapaksa (GGD) vs Wanindu Hasaranga (JST)

Rajapaksa has done a great job in leading the side in the absence of the legendary Shahid Afridi. He hit a quickfire 33 in the last match. Playing at the crucial number three spot, the left-hander displayed his vast range of shots. His gameplay is apt for limited-overs cricket as he is capable of big-hitting. 

Hasaranga took three wickets and also bowled a maiden over in the previous game. The leggie has been impressive with his all-round capabilities and clever variations in this season. He can script a magnificent turnaround in just a few balls. 

Lakshan Sandakan (GGD) vs Johnson Charles (JST)

Lakshan Sandakan Johnson Charles LPL
Lakshan Sandakan (GGD) vs Johnson Charles (JST)

Charles struck gold in the last match hitting a crucial knock of 76. While he is known for his aggressive batting style, he needs to take more responsibility to not throw away his valuable wicket. The right-hander needs to chip in with a useful contribution in the all-important final. 

Sandakan took three wickets and gave away 32 runs in the previous game. He can turn the ball both ways effectively and is a highly skillful chinaman bowler. His awkward action makes him tough to read for the batsmen. He is a cool customer and a proven-match winner. 

Prediction 

While Jaffna has been in great form throughout the league phase, Galle has improved their game by a level in the playoffs. They are not the same team as how they played in the group stage. Galle has some good bowlers in their line-up while Jaffna has some superstar batsmen in their team. 

Cricwizz predicts Jaffna Stallions to win the Lanka Premier League