LPL 2021: Jaffna Kings crowned champions after beating Galle Gladiators in high-scoring final

After defeating Galle Gladiators by 23 runs in a high-scoring conclusion at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in Hambantota on Thursday, Jaffna Kings were named winners of the Lanka Premier League 2021 season.

The Kings were led by Avishka Fernando, who scored 63 runs off 41 balls, and Wanindu Hasaranga, who made significant damage in the Galle Gladiators’ run chase by scooping up two wickets for 30 runs in his four overs. Danushka Gunathilaka gave Gladiators a quick start by smashing seven fours and three sixes in 21 balls for 54 runs at a strike rate of 257.14. When Jaffna Kings captain Thisara Perera saw his pacers being hit for a lot of boundaries, he sent the ball to Hasaranga, who dismissed Gunathilaka and also grabbed the wicket of dangerous Ben Dunk for a golden duck in the same over.

Jaffna Kings stamped their authority on the encounter after Mohammad Hafeez was run out for 10 by Chaturanga de Silva in the seventh over. In the 11th over, with the needed run rate rising, Gladiators skipper Bhanuka Rajapaksa attempted a slog-sweep off Maheesh Theekshana, but he mistimed his stroke and was caught by Hasaranga at the deep-mid wicket for 14. After a massive mix-up in the middle, Kusal Mendis, who appeared to be the Gladiators’ only glimmer of hope, was run out for 39 by Perera.

Gladiators continued to lose wickets in fast succession, eventually managing only 178/9 in 20 overs, falling 23 runs short of their target. Jaffna Kings skipper Thisara Perera’s decision to bat after winning the toss proved justified, with openers Avishka Fernando and Rahmanullah Gurbaz getting his side off to a fast start. Before the latter was bowled by Galle Gladiators spinner Samit Patel, the two contributed 56 runs in 5.2 overs.

Fernando went on to score a half-century, but Nuwan Thushara removed him for 63 runs with a slower delivery. Fernando attempted to chip the ball over the deep mid wicket, but the pace fooled him, and Danushka Gunathilaka took a simple catch.