Stallions look to be best option

Colombo Kings v Galle Gladiators
Sunday 13 December 13.30
TV: live on Sky Sports

Kings top

Colombo Kings topped the group section by beating Dambulla Vikings in their final group match. It was an extraordinary win only if you ignore this tournamet’s habit of topsy-turvy contests.

The Kings looked beaten at the break when needing 204. And they were further in the mire at 128 for four in the 14th. But Qais Ahmed’s 22-ball 50 got them home with more than an over to spare. Thikshila de Silva and Ahsan Priyanjan were also in destructive mood. There is a doubt over Laurie Evans’ fitness after he retired hurt with an abdominal strain.

Possible XI Chandimal, Bell-Drummond, Udara, Mathews, Russell, Priyanjan, T de Silva, Qais, Kaushal, Chameera, Ramanayake

Galle shouldn’t be here

Galle qualified with two wins from eight group matches to expose the flaws of the tournament. Really, the top two should have gone straight to the final.

At least they have momentum, of sorts. Both wins came in the last three matches. And one was against the Kings when they chased 171 for the loss of only two wickets. Mohammad Amir picked up the man of the match award in that game with five wickets. They need a big performance from hi again.

Possible XI Gunathilaka, Ali, Rajapaksa, Azam, Walton, G Jayasuriya, Siriwardana, Lakshan, Amir, Sandakan, A Fernando

Pitch report

Here are the first-innings scores (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second, most recent first) at Hambantota in this tournament: 203-2/126-2/173-1/168-2/150-2/171-2/105-2/207-1/148-2/156-2/170-2/185-1/175-1/196-1/218-1/96-1(5overs)/195-1/175-2/219-t. It pays to be shrewd on the extremes on innings runs. Go very low at under 130 and 140. Or go high at over 180, 1900, 200. Small risks, decent returns. No rain is forecast for either semi.

Kings short favourites

We expect Colombo to go off no better than 1.608/13. Given that surprise win for Galle on the head-to-head last time, can we make a case for getting with them on a trade. Possibly. But may have to against the toss bias to do so. The easiest route appears to be for them to go big on runs up front and then allow us to trade at the break.


Jaffna Stallions v Dambulla Vikings
Monday 14 December 13.30
TV: live on Sky Sports

Stallions slip

The Stallions looked like the best team in the tournament when they surged to the head of the pack. But once qualification was assured, their form dropped off and a malaise set in. They suffered three consecutive defeats as batting worries arose. In those matches they failed to go over 150 batting first and were too slow in a chase of a moderate 174 against Kings.

Possible XI Charles, Fernando, Bhanuka, Shoaib Mailik, Perera, Hasaranga, Asalanka, Shinwari, Lakmal, Olivier, Viyaskanth

Vikings made to pay

Vikings took their foot off the gas in their final group outing, surrendering confidence and momentum when they failed to defend 204 against Colombo. It cost them top spot and an easier semi-final against Galle.
They have a solid batting line-up, though, which given Stalllions’ recent struggles, could well pay dividends. Dasun Shanaka, who could bat anywhere from first down is their player of the tournament.
Possible XI Tharanga, Dickwella, Shanaka, Patel, Samiullah, K Perera, R Mendis, Anwar, Pushpakumara, Tiyagi, Rajitha

Stallions trade

We expect Stallions to be 2.1011/10 or possibly 2.206/5 outsiders when the market matures. But we will only get involved with the toss in their favour. As we have said from ball one in the tournament, we expect chasers to come to the fore as the pitches wear. And so it has proved. With their batting less than impressive of late, we are keener getting with them for their purpose with the ball. We will look to trade from 2.1011/10 to 1.608/13 bowling first.

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