Ed Hawkins previews the action from Hambantota on Wednesday as the group stage draws to a close...
"Galle are 2.427/5. Could we get a foothold on that? Possibly if they bat first, because they gave Vikings a bit of a scare in that monstrous chase"
Jaffna Stallions v Kandy Tuskers
Wednesday 9 December 10.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Jaffna remain top of the table on run rate after four wins, one defeat and one no result. Rain had halted their last outing which had promised to be a strong contest against the Vikings.
Astutely led by Thisara Perera they look the best balanced of the teams. Johnson Charles is there to give fast starts while Duanne Olivier, Suranga Lakmal and Usman Shinwari have all bases covered with pace.
Probable XI Charles, Fernando, Bhanuka, Shoaib Mailik, Perera, Hasaranga, Asalanka, Shinwari, Lakmal, Olivier, Viyaskanth
Tuskers are bottom of the pile with one win from six. But they can still qualify for the semi-finals because in a limited tournament four of six go through. Surely it would have been wiser to have the top two meeting in a final?
Their woes with the bat continued last time out when they could manage only 105 against Colombo Kings, who chased with more than five overs to spare.
Possible XI Gurbaz, Mk Perera, K Mendis, Taylor, Gunaratne, Pathan, K Perera, Embuldeniya, M Fernando, Pradeep, Munaf
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: 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 . A bit of rain might not assist the batsman on surfaces which are tired and worn. And with Kandy in town we're looking to go short for low risk bets on first-innings runs. Their batting is dodgy and we can take lays at small prices at 130 and 140 or more. The weather forecast for both matches is good.
The 1.705/7 on Stallions sounds like our sort of price. We do have a rule about going no lower than that in this format so if they hold they really should take down a terrible Tuskers team. They have the air of a crew who just want it all to be over with so they can pick up the pay checks and go home. Stallions are looking to keep their foot down so they don't risk momentum.
Lakmal has only just come into the Stallions team. He is an upgrade and already he is taking his wickets at a better rate than team-mates. Sportsbook make him 2/1 to be top bowler for his team. The recent moisture and cloud cover should suit him, too.
Dambulla Vikings v Galle Gladiators
Wednesday 9 December 14.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Shanaka in charge
Three straight wins for the Vikings has seen them qualify for the last four. But the washout against Stallions means this is effectively back-to-back matches against Galle. They met on Sunday with Vikings posting 207 and then defending. Dasun Shanaka has been their star and he has been promoted to No 3 to blow sides away with the bat.
Possible XI Tharanga, Dickwella, Shanaka, Patel, Samiullah, K Perera, R Mendis, Anwar, Pushpakumara, Tyaki, Rajitha
It's hard not to feel sorry for Galle. They lost Shahid Afridi after only three games and with him probably went their chances of glory. He remains their most economical bowler and he balanced the XI. At least Mohammad Amir has got his economy rate below nine but otherwise Galle leak runs dreadfully and we expect them to come under pressure in the field.
Possible XI Gunathilaka, Ali, Rajapaksa, Azam, Walton, G Jayasuriya, Siriwardana, Lakshan, Amir, Sandakan, A Fernando
Take on short favourites
Vikings are 1.654/6 for this one. It's the sort of price we expected Stallions to be for their match. Galle are 2.427/5. Could we get a foothold on that? Possibly if they bat first, because they gave Vikings a bit of a scare in that monstrous chase. If they have to field first, however, that 1.654/6 is going to look big quite quickly.
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