Table-toppers Jaffna Stallions will square off against the Kandy Tuskers in the 16th match of LPL 2020 on Wednesday. Stallions’ last game against Dambulla Viiking was called off only after 7 overs and the teams shared the points. They are now perched comfortably with 9 points in 6 games with one loss.
Tuskers hit a nadir in their last game by getting bowled out for just 105, the lowest total of the tournament yet. This was chased by Colombo Kings with 35 balls to spare. Currently, they reel under everyone else in the points table with a solitary win in 6 games.
The last time these two sides met in LPL 2020, Stallions turned out to be too hot to handle for Tuskers. A blitzkrieg knock by Stallions skipper Thisara Perera (68 off 28) and Usman Shinwari’s spell 3-17 didn’t let Tuskers off the hook at any time in the game. Kusal Perera-led Tuskers were defeated by 54 runs.
— Jaffna Stallions (@jaffnalpl) December 8, 2020
Stallions have seen only a single blip in their campaign which was against Colombo Kings in a close game. Other than that, their setup looks the most balanced in LPL 2020.
In a small sample size of seven overs in the last game, 3 of their bowlers took a wicket each against the second-best side of LPL 2020. These were Suranga Lakmal, Duanne Oliver, and Wanindu Hasaranga.
All have been truly impressive to watch this season with leg-spinner Hasaranga topping the wickets charts with 10 scalps in 6 games in LPL 2020. The opening pair of Lakmal and Shiwari hunt in tandem and are coming to this game with a rich vein of form.
Stallions’ batting picture isn’t as rosy. Everyone between opener Avishka Fernando and number six Perera has struggled throughout the tournament. They will expect more contributions from Shoaib Malik and Minod Bhanuka.
— Kandy Tuskers (@KandyLPL) December 7, 2020
Apart from the last game, Tuskers have lost all their matches after coming close to victory.
Captain Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis occupy high positions in the tournament’s most runs chart while Naveen-ul-Haq and Asela Gunaratne do the same for bowling. Somehow, they have failed to click as a team in LPL 2020.
The bowlers brought in to support Naveen and Gunaratne have all leaked runs without making much of an impact. These include Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, and Kaveeshka Anjula. Dale Steyn’s addition could prove a big boost here.
The batting unit has failed to capitalize on strong positions and fluffed in breaking the shackles whenever the opposition has taken charge. A change in this trend will have to come from the captain and the team’s senior players like Mendis and Brendon Taylor.
Stallions are arguably the most balanced side of LPL 2020 and have the momentum to back them.
Tuskers are down, but not out. They can still qualify for the LPL 2020 playoffs but will need to win this game to keep fate in their own hands. To compete against the redoubtable Stallions, Tuskers will have to play to their strengths and expose the weaknesses of the opponents.
However, for now, Thisara Perera’s side is likely to keep their ambitions at bay.
Prediction: Jaffna Stallions to win