In-form teams Dambulla Viiking and Jaffna Stallions will come face-to-face in Match No. 15 of Lanka Premier League (LPL) at Hambantota on Monday.
Both Dambulla Viiking and Jaffna Stallions have eight points from five matches. Each of the teams has registered four wins and a loss. A superior run rate, though, has placed Jaffna Stallions at the top of the points table. Dambulla Viiking are presently third as Colombo Kings, with same number of wins, are second with a better run rate. All three teams have booked their semi-final berths.
Dambulla Viiking got the better of Galle Gladiators by nine runs in their previous encounter to confirm their semi-final spot. On the other hand, Jaffna Stallions succumbed to Colombo Kings by six wickets, for their first defeat of the tournament. They will thus be keen to get back to winning ways.
The last time these two sides met, Jaffna Stallions got the better of Dambulla Viiking by 66 runs. Can the latter set the record straight this time around?
Dambulla Viiking put up an excellent batting performance in the victory over Galle Gladiators. Openers Upul Tharanga and Niroshan Dickwella featured in a 110-run stand for the first wicket. It was a much-needed effort since the top order of the Dambulla Viiking had been struggling in their previous games.
Tharanga top scored with 77 from 54 while Dickwella was the accelerator in the partnership with 60 from 37 balls. With the semi-finals coming up, Dambulla Viiking will be keen for both Tharanga and Dickwella to maintain their form.
Their middle-order has excelled right through the tournament. Skipper Dasun Shanaka has led from the front with a couple of match-winning knocks. Angelo Perera has played one standout knock while all-rounder Samit Patel has chipped in with crucial contributions.
In the bowling department, Anwar Ali was superb with his 3-for-37 haul against the Galle Gladiators. In fact, they have a very good all-round bowling attack with the likes of Kasun Rajitha and left-arm spinner Patel among others.
Jaffna Stallions failed with the bat and went down to Colombo Kings in their previous encounter. They shouldn’t be too worried though. Avishka Fernando has done an excellent job at the top of the order. Skipper Thisara Perera too has led from the front with some blazing knocks. Dhananjaya de Silva has got runs as well.
Jaffna Stallions would need runs from Shoaib Malik and Johnson Charles. In the last match, they managed only eight and seven respectively.
As for their bowling, leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga has been in a league of his own. Chaturanga de Silva was impressive in the last match, with figures of 1 for 21 as was 19-year-old leggie Vijayakanth Viyaskanth. However, Binura Fernando was expensive, going for 41 in his four overs.
There is not much to pick between the two sides. Dambulla Viiking’s batting fired in the last game, but their bowling was put under pressure by Galle Gladiators.
On the contrary, Jaffna Stallions had a bad game with the bat against Colombo Kings, which did not allow their bowlers to make an impression.
That said, Dambulla Viiking go into this match with a slight edge over Jaffna Stallions due to their batting strength.
Predicted to win: Dambulla Viiking