Shoaib Malik, the 38-year old veteran experienced campaigner had stepped up on the biggest of the events of the final of the inaugural Lanka Premier League. His team, Jaffna Stallions emerged as the champions as they beat the Galle Gladiators by a good 53 runs. Malik first scored 46 runs in the middle overs and in the end took two wickets to take his team over the line.
The 23rd match of LPL, the final of the inaugural Lanka Premier League was between Galle Gladiators and Jaffna Stallions. Gladiators had previously beaten the table-toppers Colombo Kings in the semifinal while Stallions had defeated Dambulla Viiking.
Pressure game, win the toss and bat first is the situation to put the pressure of the final on the chasing team. Jaffna Stallions after winning the toss posted a good, healthy total of 188 runs which is way good for a final. Galle Gladiators were never in contention of winning the game having lost the first three wickets in the first two overs and eventually losing the final by 53 runs.
Jaffna Stallions innings – Malik leads the batting effort
Avishka Fernando and Johnson Charles came out to bat for the last time for Jaffna Stallions this year. After winning the toss and elected to bat first, Stallions made a good start. A good start in every way for a final.
Charles, after spanking six boundaries was the first to go after putting on a 44-run partnership with Fernando.
Bit of wobble in the middle of the innings as Stallions lost two quick wickets in the middle. Charith Asalanka was out in the 8th over while Fernando got out in the 9th over.
Then came the most experienced guy of the team, Shoaib Malik. Combining with Dhananjaya de Silva, scored a crucial 69-run fourth-wicket partnership.
Malik rotated the strike beautifully and tried to score important runs in the important game. After the dismissal of de Silva, Captain Thisara Perera came to the crease to give the final touches to the innings and he did.
Perera scored blistering 39 runs off just 14 balls, an innings that included five fours and two sixes to push the final total to 188 in the twenty overs.
Dhananjaya Lakshan was the pick of the bowlers. He grabbed three scalps on the final’s night.
Galle Gladiators needed 189 runs to win the title.
Galle Gladiators innings – Bowlers win it for Stallions
Pressure final and chasing a big score of 189 is never easy for any team. Galle Gladiators needed a good start but the converse happened. They had a bad start and in fact a very bad start.
Hazratullah Zazai, who once smoked six sixes in six balls in an over, was out on duck on the third ball of the innings. He skied the ball straight up off Dhananjaya de Silva and was caught. Gladiators 2-1 after first over.
Danushka Gunathilaka is the leading run-scorer of the tournament and his stay was crucial for the team. But wait. Oh no. A bit of drama at the crease and Gunathilaka is run out. Two down for Gladiators. Two balls later, oh no. Ahsan Ali edged the ball and is gone. Gladiators three down. Score after two overs, 7-3.
A bit of respite after that. Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Shehan Jayasuria had a good stay at the crease. They together scored 55 runs, but then the mystery of Shoaib Malik worked. He got the wicket of Rajapaksa who was playing brilliantly well and scored 40 of just 17 balls that included four sixes and three fours.
And after that, it was just the matter of time as Gladiators kept losing wickets at regular intervals.
They lost their 8th wicket at the score of 114.
The final score read as 135-9.
Shoaib Malik and Usman Shinwari picked up two wickets each.
Jaffna Stallions have won the inaugural Lanka Premier League 2020.
Shoaib Malik, for his all-round performance in the final was the man of the match. He scored 46 runs and picked up two wickets.
Wanindu Hasaranga was the man of the series. He leads the bowling charts with 17 wickets to his name
Man of the Match: Shoaib Malik
Man of the Series: Wanindu Hasaranga
Result: Jaffna Stallions win by 53 runs and are the Lanka Premier League 2020 champions