By Srian Obeyesekere
The enveloping aura of a new era in the annals of Sri Lankan cricket is the flitting mood all around to a cricket loving nation with the dawn of the Lanka Premier League 2020 today to be staged at the picturesque Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium. That the historic milestone day has arrived at long last in Sri Lanka Cricket’s 3-year long questing is indeed a magical dream come true for the game’s keepers at Sri Lanka Cricket. For, the aspiration to that ultimate high anointing to the country’s cricket in over a century long odyssey of internationalizing local cricket at the grassroots level is buoying. Indeed, by and large bringing international stars to the country’s doorstep in the fast galloping T20 short version of the game through the LPL is viewed all round as the defying driving force to taking Sri Lankan cricket to the next level. The best testament to that is the origin to this form of cricket – the largely successful Indian Premier League (IPL) that has become a fast fad drawing international stars as much as hitherto unknown young talent wondrously discovered to world cricket.
In that vein, this inaugural LPL that has found tremendous commercial backing for a start does certainly carry the trimmings of progressively evolving to a big international stage for the game nourishing local cricket. Perhaps, the best lending credence to that are the buoying remarks by none other than the former Founder CEO of the LPG, Anil Mohan at the media launch of the LPL on Tuesday when he said, “This tournament will happen and get better in the future.” He also hinted to the lucrative commercial depth the LPL will progressively garner.
Indeed, as the Lanka Premier League cascades with its opening ceremony at 06.50 p.m. in fittingly portraying the grandeur of Sri Lanka and its overflowing cricketing embodiment, it will give way to the taking off of the showpiece tournament with the opening game between Colombo Kings led by Angelo Mathews and Kandy Tuskers led by at 7.30 p.m.
Comparatively both teams are equally strong with a balance of local and foreign players. While Colombo Kings skipper Angelo Mathews, a top flight middle order batsman, is regarded as Sri Lanka’s most experienced campaigner, his opposite number Kusal Janith Perera, a left hander who has emulated his hero Sanath Jayasuriya, is an explosive stroke maker.
The tournament, conducted under stringent health guidelines, will see the 05 teams in the fray covering 23 matches spanning 15 days at the MRICS, Hambantota. In total, there will be 10 center wickets that will be used for the competition.
All teams will compete in 8 games in the first round, whilst the top four teams will make it to the Semi-Finals, which will be played on December 13 and 14, whilst the Grand Final will be on December 16.
The tournament features a top Match Referee and Umpiring Panel with two Sri Lankans in ICC Chief Match Referee, Ranjan Madugalle and ICC Elite Panel Umpire Kumar Dharmasena officiating.
Angelo Mathews (Capt.), Andre Russell, Karim Khan Sadeq, Dammika Prasad, Manpreet Gony, Isuru Udana, Dinesh Chandimal, Amila Aponso, Ashan Priyanjaya, Ravinderpal Singh, Dushmantha Chameera, Jeffrey Vandersay, Theekshila de Silva, PHT Kaushal, Lahiru Udara, Himesh Ramanayka, Kalana Perera, Tharindu Rathnayaka, Navod Paranawithana, Qais Ahmad, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Laurie Evans
Kusal Janith Perera (Capt.), Kusal Mendis, Nuwan Pradeep, Kevin Kottigoda, Vishwa Fernando, Seekkuge Prasanna, Asela Guneratne, Naveen-ul-Haq, Kamindu Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Priyamal Perera, Kamindu Mendis, Kavisha Anjula, Lasith Embuldeniya, Lahiru Samarakoon, Nishan Madushka, Chamika Edirisinghe, Ishan Jayaratne, Irfan Pathan, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Sohail Tanveer, Munaf Patel, Dale Steyn, Brendan Taylor
Thisara Perera (Capt.), Prabhath Jayasuriya, Wanidu Hasaranga, Shoaib Malik, Usman Shinwari, Avishka Fernando, Dananjaya De Silva, Suranga Lakmal, Binura Fernando, Minod Bhanuka, Chathuranga de Silva, Mahesh Theekshana, Charith Asalanka, Nuwandinu Fernando, Kanakaratnam Kapilraj, Theivendiram Dinoshan, Vijayakanth Vijayakanth, Kyle Abbott, Duanne Olivier, Tom Moores, Johnson Charles, Duanne Oliver, Sebastianpillai Vijeyaraj
Shahid Afridi (Capt.), Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammed Amir, Danushka Gunathilaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Akila Dananjaya, Milinda Siriwardane, Azam Khan, Lakshan Sandakan, Shehan Jayasuriya, Asitha Fernando, Nuwan Thushara, Mohammed Shiraz, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Chanaka Ruwansiri, Sahan Arachchi, Duvindu Tillakaratne, Chadwick Walton, Ashan Ali, Abdul Nasir, Waqas Maqsood
Dasun Shanaka (Capt.), Samit Patel, Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Kumara, Oshada Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Paul Stirling, Lahiru Madushanka, Upul Tharanga, Angelo Perera, Ramesh Mendis, Pulina Tharanga, Dilshan Madushanka, Kavindu Nadeeshan, Shajindu Colombage, Lendl Simmons, Sundeep Tyagi, Samiullah Shenwari, Anwar Ali, Malinda Pushpakumara, Aftab Alam
TOURNAMENT MATCH SCHEDULE: