Colombo and Kandy eye flying start in LPL opener

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Colombo Kings and Kandy Tuskers will be hoping to make a flying start to their campaign when they clash in the curtain raiser match of the Lanka Premier League T20 Cricket Tournament at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium in Hambantota under lights today.

The focus no doubt, will be more on the overseas stars as some of them are in good form but few players are coming out from their retirement and will take the field in a T20 game after a lapse of two years.

Even then, the Kings would probably have a slight psychological advantage, as they possess arguably the biggest star in T20 cricket, Andre Russell (will be doubtfull starter after his injury at the recently concluded IPL. As per Angelo Mathews, Russells was supposed to attend the practice session last evening after his quarantine period and a final decision will be taken on his fitness. He is fresh after his heroics in the recently concluded Indian Premier League.

With Skipper Angelo Mathews set to lead from the front, the Kings certainly should be confident with a lot of firepower coming from the lower middle-order in addition to their accurate bowling. Therefore, the Tuskers will have a tough task in their hands to keep the runs down and their bowlers will need to be really on the spot throughout the 20 overs.

The Tuskers pace attack is spearheaded by two former India stalwarts, Irfan Pathan (36) and Munaf Patel (37) but the concern is whether they will be able to deliver the desired results while playing their first T20 game after a long break.

With South Africa’s Dale Steyn not available for the early part of the tournament, the Tuskers will depend more on the local talent with Nuwan Pradeep and Vishwa Fernando set to play a major role in their bowling attack.

Even then, some of the top batsmen would still struggle to clear the huge boundaries at the Rajapaksa Stadium and getting closer to a score of 175 runs will be a tough ask.

In fact, only on one occasion that a side had scored more than 175 runs at this venue and the highest score was Sri Lanka’s 182 for four against Zimbabwe way back in 2012.

The teams: Colombo Kings Squad: Angelo Mathews (Captain), Manpreet Singh Gony, Andre Russell, Laurie Evans, Daniel Bell Drummond, Isuru Udana, Dinesh Chandimal (WK), Amila Aponso, Ashan Priyanjana, Qais Ahmad, Dushmantha Chameera, Jeffrey Vandersay, Thikshila de Silva, Tharindu Kaushal, Lahiru Udara, Karim Khan Sadeq, Dhammika Prasad, Himesh Ramanayake, Kalana Perera, Tharindu Ratnayake and Navod Paranavithana.

Kandy Tuskers Squad: Kusal Janith Perera (Captain), Brendan Taylor, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Sohail Tanvir, Kusal Mendis, Nuwan Pradeep, Seekkuge Prasanna, Asela Gunaratne, Naveen-ul-Haq, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK), Kamindu Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Priyamal Perera, Kavishka Anjula, Lasith Embuldeniya, Kevin Kottigoda, Vishwa Fernando, Lahiru Samarakoon, Nishan Madushka, Chamikara Edirisinghe and Ishan Jayaratne.