After months of uncertainty, Lanka Premier League 2020 gets rolling

Despite logistical nightmares, quarantine issues, and last-minute pull outs by multiple players -- inaugural edition of the LPL is all set to begin in Hambantota from Thursday.

The inaugural edition of the LPL is set to begin at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in Hambantota.   -  Twitter@theLPLt20

The last few months have been challenging for Sri Lanka Cricket and the promoters of the Lanka Premier League. Each time they took a step ahead to get the ball rolling, some obstacle or the other would drag them back.

There were logistical nightmares, quarantine issues, and last-minute pull outs by multiple players -- making the task even more difficult. But finally, the inaugural edition of the LPL is set to begin at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in Hambantota from Thursday.

Despite the hiccups, all the five teams are looking forward to play some exciting cricket over the next couple of weeks. Angelo Mathews, who has been one of the stars of Sri Lanka, thanks the government, the health department and the SLC for putting the show together.

Read: Afridi to lead Galle Gladiators in inaugural Lankan Premier League  

“They all have done a great job. There are various challenges. There are health factors, and we have to be careful. We are inside a bubble, so no one can come in and go out. It is pretty safe and tests are being done every three-five days,” Mathews said in a virtual media interaction on the eve of the tournament opener between Colombo Kings and Kandy Tuskers.

“There is attention to detail because there are so many teams here. There are other challenges too because we are used to playing in front of crowds, but now we won’t have that atmosphere. They will watch us on television, they love watching us. So, we are glad to bring smiles to their faces in such a situation,” Mathews, who is the captain of Colombo Kings, said.

Big names, no fans

While the tournament will see the participation of some big names - Shahid Afridi, Irfan Pathan, Andre Russell, Mohammad Amir - it will also be an opportunity for Sri Lanka’s young cricketers to prove their mettle.

Colombo Kings allrounder Andre Russell will be available for the tournament opener.   -  Twitter@theLPLt20

 

As they gear up for the big moment, they also make it clear that things won’t be the same without the fans. “Not only for us, but for the entire world, it’s the same feeling. It’s not ideal, but we have to accept it,” Dambulla Viiking captain Dasun Shanaka said.

Even though most teams had announced their captains well in advance, Dambulla outfit named Shanaka its captain at the last minute. However, he doesn’t think that it will have any impact on the team preparation. “Our management wanted to have two-three practices before (choosing the captain). That’s why it was late to appoint the captain. Hopefully, we will be good in the tournament,” Shanaka said.

Also read: Lanka Premier League set for take-off after turbulent build-up  

The Sri Lanka cricketers had long camps in Kandy before reaching Hambantota and most of the players who are part of the league have recently featured in either the Indian Premier League or the Pakistan Super League. So, the team captains feel that fitness won’t be an area of concern and Mathews also confirmed that West Indies ace Russell will be available for selection in the tournament opener. Two of India’s former fast bowlers - Pathan and Munaf Patel - will also be back on the field, after a long hiatus.

The pandemic and the health protocols make the road ahead tricky for sure, but the players are happy to finally return to where they belong - the 22 yards!

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