Auckland, November 25: West Indies coach Phil Simmons has said he was not aware of all-rounder Andre Russell going to Sri Lanka to play in the upcoming Lanka Premier League (LPL 2020. Russell will be turning up for Colombo Kings in the inaugural Lanka Premier League. However, the all-rounder had declined selection for Windies’ tour of New Zealand and right now there is no clarity as to why Russell declined being available for T20I series against the Kiwis. “That’s news to me. I haven’t spoken to him since we came down here to New Zealand. He was at the IPL and I haven’t spoken to him since then. I didn’t know he was in Sri Lanka. I can’t answer your question about that until I know what the whole situation is,” ESPNCricinfo quoted Simmons as saying. When Windies had announced the squad for the series against New Zealand, it was said that Russell, along with Lendl Simmons and Evin Lewis, had opted out of selection. After being signed in the LPL draft, Russell had initially withdrawn from the tournament citing fitness issues, but he later declared himself as available. New Zealand and West Indies are slated to lock horns in three T20Is and two Tests.
Kandy Tuskers are compelled to play today’s LPL curtain raiser with only 3 overseas players.
LPL rules allows teams to field maximum 4 overseas players and minmum 3.
According to Kandy Tuskers team manager Farveez Maharoof, Kandy has only three overseas players available to pick for today’s game.
Maharoof said that with all the replacements happening, Kandy have secured all the 7 overseas players but only three are available for the first game against Angelo Mathew’s Colombo Kings.
He added that Brendon Taylor and Munaf Patel are currently in Sri Lanka but still not finished their quarantine period which makes them unavailable for selection.
With Sohail Tanvir out due to testing positive for Covid, Tuskers have only Irfan Pathan, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Naveen-ul-Haq to play.
Dale Steyn is only expected to arrive in Sri Lanka on the 30th and he will be missing the first half of the tournament.
Overseas players: Irfan Pathan (India), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (Afghanistan), Brendon Taylor (Zimbabwe), Naveen-ul-Haq (Afghanistan), Munaf Patel (India), Dale Steyn (South Africa), Sohail Tanvir (Pakistan)
LPL : Kandy Tuskers Preview – Best XI, Critical factors & Prediction
After being asked to bat first. 18-year-old Rahmanullah Gurbaz lit the LPL up with a 21-ball fifty. Kusal Perera took his time and launched a solid attack and missed the hundred by just 13 runs. Gunaratne and Kusal Mendis chipped in with handy knocks to push the total well beyond 200.
After that it was up to Colombo Kings Dinesh Chandimal played a brilliant opening knock of 80 off 46 balls gave the momentum towards Colombo Kings. Naveen-ul-haq bowled a brilliant over took two wickets in the same over he took the wickets of Dinesh Chandimal and Thikshila De Silva. Andre Russ smak some huge sixes unfortunately he got out for 24. It was in 17th over Kusal Mendis dropped the chance of Isuru Udana. Udana managed to play a game changing knock of 34 runs of 12 balls. When 3 was needed in the final bowl Isuru Udana Played towards Long-On region for 2 runs which managed Colombo Kings For a super over.
Nuwan Pradeep bowled the super over for Kandy Tuskers and he was smaked for 16 runs of the super over. Unfortunately Kandy Tuskers couldn’t seal with the victory. At the end it was Isuru Udana’s all-round performance sealed the victory for Colombo Kings.
By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
After much consternation and deliberation Sri Lanka’s inaugural T20 tournament with international players – the Lanka Premier League (LPL) – is set to take off at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium at 3.30 pm today sans all the fanfare due to the current pandemic that requires strict health guidelines be adhered to.
The tournament will be declared open by Sports and Youth Minister Namal Rajapaksa who has played a big hand in ensuring the LPL became a reality.
The start of the tournament was postponed four times from its initial date of 28 August due to the pandemic, and that it is happening is largely due to the Sports Minister.
“Our only concern was if the government decided to lockdown the entire country we may not have gone ahead with it but Shammi [Silva, the SLC president] and I, we were both adamant. Special mention should be given to Namal Rajapaksa he was right behind it. He wanted to have sports in the country booming now. He was the strength behind all of us. Shammi couldn’t have handled the decision makers without Namal’s support,” said LPL Tournament Director Ravin Wickramaratne.
“Without Shammi I don’t think we could have done it. He actually balanced the top layer and he basically dealt with the decision makers. It allowed for me to go on with other aspects of the game and the tournament, and he didn’t interfere. Having said that, we never thought that we could have done this without the support of the Health Ministry,” Wickramaratne continued.
“We have been having a lot of discussions. They also compromised and we had to agree to them with regard to the quarantine period. That was the major threat nothing more than that.”
According to Wickramaratne this is the first time a virtual opening ceremony is happening in the world as far as cricket is concerned.
“The Sports Minister will speak a few words and declare it open and the SLC president will also speak. We will be launching our mobile app and after that there will be a cultural show but nothing physical, it is virtual. Then we will go to the studio for discussion, then to the toss, and then the match will commence.
“When the first ball is bowled it would bring some sort of satisfaction to all of us that we have achieved something for Sri Lanka cricket. Being given a task, I should be happy more than anyone else because usually it is a fast bowler who starts the game. I was a fast bowler.”
IPG Founder CEO and Managing Director Anil Mohan said the LPL was the most challenging one he has undertaken in the five years since his new company was formed.
“It is the most challenging one I have faced because of COVID-19. Nothing was happening at times and so many issues were there. This is very difficult because you are not there with anyone. You cannot even sit with the Sri Lankan Board in one office and decide on things. I hired an office from October, but when COVID came I couldn’t operate the office, it was so difficult,” said Mohan.
However he assured that everything was under control for today’s opening match between Colombo Kings and Kandy Tuskers at 8 p.m. Five teams are competing in 23 matches over 15 days to decide on the champions on 16 December.
“Despite the challenges we managed it somehow. The Sport Minister is supporting us very much he has been there for us whenever anything is required.”
Mohan said the quality of television broadcasting of LPL would be as good as the IPL, and revealed that during the tournament several Bollywood stars and celebrities would be present.
“Sachiin Joshi the big Bollywood star owns Dambulla. He is getting all the celebrities, and coming for the matches in his own chartered flight. He is very big, his profile is more than 15,000 crores (Indian) turnover. He will come three or four times on his charter and go back. He will bring lots of Bollywood stars like Akash Chopra – lots of them. We will know once we get the passport copy,” added Mohan.
By Rex Clementine
A former Sri Lanka cricketer is under probe after his alleged attempt to entice a player into corrupt practice in the inaugural Lanka Premier League tournament that will get underway today at Hambantota.
The former player – an off-spinner with a dodgy action – had represented Sri Lanka frequently from 2012 to 2016 before being discarded after being reported for a suspect action. He has featured in various T-20 leagues since losing his spot in the Sri Lankan side. Cricket officials said that he had been under the spotlight for corrupt activities but had escaped punishment due to lack of evidence.
The player who was approached was former S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia spin bowler Tharindu Ratnayake. The ambidextrous Ratnayake bowls both left-arm orthodox spin and right-arm off-spin and represents Sinhalese Sports Club in domestic cricket. The former Sri Lanka player had got to know him at the club having also played for the Maitland Crescent club.
Ratnayake had reported the approach after he received a Watasapp message tempting him to corrupt practice during the Lanka Premier League. Ratnayake represents Colombo Kings.
Sri Lanka Cricket officials said that while they were disappointed that something of this nature had occurred on the eve of the tournament added that they were happy that players are taking corruption in the sport seriously.
“We have spent a lot of time, energy and money educating our young players of dangers of corruption and we are glad the incident was reported,” a senior cricket official told The Island.
The captain of the Colombo Kings franchise Angelo Mathews also came in for special praise by SLC. “We are glad to note that Angelo as the captain of the Colombo franchise had called up all his players for a meeting and had warned them to be vigilant of nefarious plots,” the official added.
The official said that Mathews also had vehemently opposed an Indian player who was banned for corruption being flown in to be part of the Colombo franchise which Mathews leads.
The LPL will get underway today at Hambantota and the scandal was the last thing the organizers wanted having gone through many difficulties in making the event a reality. The organizers were working in a short time frame to make this a reality and in the middle of that the outbreak of the pandemic threatened the event.
Sri Lanka Cricket has successfully worked with health authorities in bringing down overseas players, support staff and television crew who have gone through isolation before being drafted into a bubble to resume training ahead of the tournament.
You’re not dreaming. This is not a fantasy. After years of announcements and cancellations, years in which Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) officials lumbered into organisational walls and stumbled into logistical potholes, Sri Lanka fans will finally get to watch a homegrown franchise T20 league. The build-up has been chaotic. Players have pulled out late, others have contracted Covid-19, replacements have been hastily found, payments have been demanded, quarantines completed and a flight has even been missed. It’s been an anarchic whirlwind, but in a way, there is no better precursor to cricket in Sri Lanka. It’s less than 48 hours until the first game begins. So here, have a preview.
Coach: Herschelle Gibbs
Captain: Angelo Mathews
How good are they looking? (With the caveat that as most Sri Lanka players have not had high-level competitive cricket since March, form is going to be almost impossible to judge.)
For starters, Colombo Kings have the two biggest names in the tournament, and from the looks of it, were the biggest spenders. Andre Russell’s presence gives the whole league a sheen of desperately needed glamour, while they also have Mathews, who is the most recognisable Sri Lankan player following the exit of Lasith Malinga. But these are not just names. If both Russell and Mathews are available to bowl, the Kings give themselves versatility with the ball, as well as solid firepower through the middle order, which could be the makings of a fine T20 side.
There’s also a strong spin department. Afghan legspinner Qais Ahmad, and local spinners Tharindu Kaushal (offspin), Amila Aponso, and Jeffrey Vandersay each have varying strengths. The top order will likely feature Daniel Bell-Drummond, who topped the run-scorers’ list in England’s T20 Blast tournament this year, where Laurie Evans racked up impressive numbers from the middle order.
This is not to say there are no serious challenges. Dinesh Chandimal, who will almost certainly keep wickets, hasn’t been a top T20 performer in years, and despite the presence of Isuru Udana and Dushmantha Chameera, the seam-bowling contingent seems a little shaky. But, this is a solid outfit.
Notable mishap (LPL should find sponsors for tournament gaffes): Dav Whatmore was originally slated to coach this team. He was then replaced (for reasons not known) by Kabir Ali. Kabir, though, tested positive for Covid-19 in England last week, and couldn’t make the trip across. So Gibbs, who was flying across to Sri Lanka to work as a commentator for the tournament, was nominated as coach, and was informed of this on his arrival.
Coach: Moin Khan
Captain: Uhh…maybe Bhanuka Rajapaksa for now? But Shahid Afridi when he gets to Sri Lanka…that’s unless he misses another flight.
How good are they looking?
If Malinga had turned up relatively fit and firing, Gladiators might have reasonably claimed to have the best attack of the tournament. Now, with Malinga having pulled out last moment, Gladiators will hope Mohammad Amir has a great tournament, with Asitha Fernando also likely to be a key fast bowler.
On paper, Gladiators have Sri Lanka’s best spinners, with Lakshan Sandakan and Akila Dananjaya both in the squad, but there is a little asterisk here. Dananjaya’s just coming back from a one-year ban, which he copped due to an illegal action. He is understood to have brought his elbow up to code during that layoff, but how effective will the new action be?
Batting-wise, Danushka Gunathilaka and Hazratullah Zazai seem an imposing pairing at the top of the order, with Rajapaksa, Shehan Jayasuriya and Ashan Ali also around. What might worry Gladiators is that they are light on seam-bowling all-round options. The middle order seems shaky as well, unless Afridi has a stellar tournament.
Notable mishap: Sarfaraz Ahmed was originally supposed to the captain of this team, just as he captains the PSL’s Quetta Gladiators – the team owner’s other team. But then he went and got himself picked for Pakistan’s tour to New Zealand. The captaincy subsequently went to Malinga, who clearly took the responsibility quite seriously and waited for the week before the tournament to announce that he wouldn’t be playing. Afridi then inherited this chalice, and promptly missed a flight to Sri Lanka.
(Yes, Viikings with two ‘i’s. It’s the brand name of the business that owns the franchise.)
Captain: They promise they will let us know when they decide.
Coach: Owais Shah
How good are they looking?
There is a decent locally nurtured batting order here. Niroshan Dickwella, Upul Tharanga and Oshada Fernando are likely to take up residence in the top four, and will most likely be joined by the biggest foreign name in Viikings’ ranks – Ireland opener Paul Stirling. For middle-order firepower, they’ve got Dasun Shanaka, Angelo Perera (a long-time domestic performer), Ramesh Mendis (a rising star in the domestic scene), and Afghanistan’s Samiullah Shinwari.
Lahiru Kumara, who may be the quickest bowler in the tournament, headlines the attack, with Kasun Rajitha, Aftab Alam, and Sudeep Tyagi, the former India pacer who retired from all forms of cricket last week, for company. On the spin front, Samit Patel arrives fresh from a PSL runners-up stint with the Lahore Qalandars, while domestic stalwart left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara is also on board.
On the surface, Viikings don’t look the most promising team in the tournament partly because they seem light on superstar talent, and there aren’t a lot of consistent T20 performers here either. But if their local batsmen fire, there is no reason they couldn’t put up a strong campaign.
Notable mishap: Initially, when coach Jon Lewis drafted the majority of this team, they were known as the Dambulla Hawks. Then, a couple of weeks later, after Lewis had been jettisoned, they became the Dambulla Lions for a bit. Eventually, the Viikings group (who own a brewery in Goa, plus a bunch of other stuff probably), bought the franchise, and slapped their brand name on the team.
Captain: Kusal Perera
Coach: Hashan Tillakaratne
How good are they looking?
Tuskers have perhaps had the rockiest road into the tournament, having hit a serious speed bump last week when Chris Gayle withdrew, citing injuries. It had been hoped that between Gayle and captain Kusal Perera Tuskers could produce some serious top-order ballistics, but they will now have to do with the more staid kinds of innings that Brendan Taylor tends to produce. Rahmanullah Gurbaz (Afghanistan), Kusal Mendis and Asela Gunaratne are also likely to bat in the top six.
The team did get a late boost, when Dale Steyn was announced as a replacement for Sohail Tanvir, but beyond this there’s not a lot of bankable talent, and Steyn will probably miss the first week in any case. It’s been two years since Tuskers’ Indian seamers – Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel – last played a T20 game. Fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep has been known to deliver good death-bowling performances, but the remainder of the prominent local bowlers – Vishwa Fernando, Dilruwan Perera, and Lasith Embuldeniya – have made their names as Test bowlers.
Notable mishap: Initially, Tuskers had picked Wahab Riaz and Liam Plunkett to lead their attack, before Wahab got picked for Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand, and Plunkett pulled out citing injury. Then they chose Tanvir to beef up their pace stocks, but Tanvir tested positive for Covid-19 soon after arriving in Sri Lanka, and now has to be sequestered away in a separate hotel until he gets better.
Captain: Thisara Perera
Coach: Thilina Kandamby
How good are they looking?
Jaffna Stallions’ strategy in the draft was obvious: to select a core of dynamic local players, around which to build the franchise. They were so committed to this strategy that two of their three marquee players were locals (Thisara Perera and Wanindu Hasaranga), when most teams opted to pick just one local marquee player. The result is a dangerous outfit. In addition to Hasaranga and Thisara, who can contribute with both bat and ball, Stallions also have Dhananjaya de Silva, and Chaturanga de Silva. Avishka Fernando, the most exciting top-order talent in Sri Lanka, and promising wicketkeeper-batsman Minod Bhanuka are in the squad as well.
Kyle Abbott, the former South Africa fast bowler, is the most notable name among the foreign players, with Usman Shinwari – the left-arm quick from Pakistan – and Duanne Olivier – Abbott’s fellow Kolpak-deal maker also around. West Indies’ Johnson Charles will probably open the innings, and Stallions have the experience of Shoaib Malik to call on in the middle order.
There are no notable specialist spinners here, though. Stallions are banking on Hasaranga and Dhananjaya de Silva having good tournaments with the ball.
Stallions were also the only team to run a training camp for their local players long before the foreigners began showing up. In general, they seem the most organised of the franchises so far.
Notable mishap: Stallions have avoided the worst of the upheaval that has characterised the lead-up to the tournament. But they did have one late withdrawal: Ravi Bopara pulled out after the franchise could not agree to providing him his full payment up front.