Thisara Perera’s magnificent 39 off 14 balls in the death overs had revived Jaffna Stallions but it was Pakistan veteran Shoaib Malik who stole the show with a fine all-round performance. His 46 and 2/13 proved to be the difference maker as Jaffna Stallions defeated Galle Gladiators by 53 runs to win the inaugural Lanka Premier League 2020 title at Hambantota on Wednesday. On the big occasion, it was Jaffna Stallions captain Thisara Perera who led from the front with a magnificent knock as Jaffna Stallions blasted 48 runs in the final four overs to put the game beyond Galle Gladiators, who entered the final after beating the star-studded Colombo Kings in a dramatic semi-final. For most part of the match, Galle Gladiators had things under control but they let the initiative slip when Thisara Perera tore into the bowling.
Jaffna Stallions chose to bat and they got off to a blazing start with Johnson Charles and Avishka Fernando scoring at over 10 runs an over. Johnson Charles hit five fours in two overs and Avishka Fernando responded with a six off Dhanajaya Lakshan as they reached 42/0 in just four overs. However, Lakshan dismissed Charles and that stalled Jaffna Stallions’ momentum. After losing two quick wickets, including Avishka Fernando for 27, there was a three-over period when no boundaries were scored.
Shoaib Malik broke the shackles in the middle overs by first hitting Lakshan Sandakan for a boundary and then clobbering Arachchige for a boundary and a six in the 12th over. That rubbed off on Dhanjaya de Silva who hammered two sixes and a four as 20 runs came in the 13th over.
The game then changed when Thisara Perera stepped in. Although Shoaib Malik neared a fifty, he was dismissed for 46 by Lakshan but Thisara Perera was in the zone. The left-hander hit a six off Lakshan and two fours off Mohammad Amir as the onslaught continued. Thisara Perera signed off with a six and a four off Nuwan Thushara as Jaffna Stallions ended on 188/6.
Bad start for Galle Gladiators
The momentum had completely swung in favour of Jaffna Stallions and Galle Gladiators did not help themselves with a horrendous start. Dhanushka Gunathilaka, Hazratullah Zazai and Ahsan Ali were all sent back as Galle Gladiators were reduced to 7/3. However, Galle Gladiators captain Bhanuka Rajapaksa kept things interesting.
Rajapaksa slammed two sixes off Dhananjaya de Silva and Thisara Perera as the run-rate reached the 12-run mark. However, Shoaib Malik struck again and he removed Rajapaksa for 40 off 17 balls.
Azam Khan came in and struck some big blows off Usman Shinwari and he kept Galle Gladiators in the contest with two more sixes off Duanne Olivier but once he fell, it was all over and Galle Gladiators meekly fell short by 53 runs. For his all-round exploits, Shoaib Malik was the Man of the Match and he said, “I really enjoyed the tournament. Sometimes you are successful, sometimes you are not, you got to back yourself. The trophy is the biggest thing, that’s a big satisfaction. Happy with the performance.”