The third edition of the Lanka Premier League draft was held on Tuesday night, with each of the five franchises allowed to choose six international players, one from each price bracket except gold and silver. Sri Lankan players were available for all categories. The pre-draft portion of team selection, however, meant that for many teams the top draft picks were decided long before the actual draft.
The draft included players in seven price tiers: Ruby ($60,000; approx. LKR21.5 million) Sapphire ($50,000; approx. LKR18 million), Diamond A ($40,000; approx. LKR14 million) LKR), Diamond B ($25,000; approx. LKR 9 million), Platinum ($15,000; approx. LKR 5 million), Gold ($10,000; approx. LKR 3.5 million) and Silver ($3,000 ; about LKR 1 million).
Kings of Jaffna
Where to start than Jaffna Kings? Formerly the Stallions, they are two out of two in the LPL final and are undoubtedly the team to beat. If you were to pinpoint the reason for their success, however, you’d boil it down to shrewd teamwork, which left other franchises playing catch-up.
Their captain Thisara Perera, Avishka Fernando, Shoaib Malik, Suranga Lakmal and Wanindu Hasaranga formed the backbone of the team that won the inaugural LPL and were integral to last year’s campaign as well. Last season, Kings also identified exciting young overseas talent as well as homegrown talent like Jayden Seales, Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Maheesh Theekshana.
But all good things must come to an end, and this season will certainly test Kings’ think tank, first and foremost in dealing with the losses of Hasaranga, Avishka and Lakmal. Hasaranga has been signed by Kandy Falcons, Avishka is out long-term with a knee injury and Lakmal has retired.
Still, the Kings focused as much as possible on rebuilding their core from the past two years and picked Thisara (Ruby), Malik (Sapphire) and Theekshana (Diamond A) ahead of the draft and Afghan wicketkeeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz in the draft.
West Indies fly-half Evin Lewis (Ruby) and fast South African Hardus Viljoen (Sapphire) were their two pre-draft signings as foreign players. The remaining away places were filled by 23-year-old Pakistani speedster Shahnawaz Dahani (Diamond B) and 21-year-old South African wicketkeeper Tristan Stubbs.
Their fans will also be excited by the inclusion of all-rounders Dhananjaya de Silva (Sapphire) and Dunith Wellalage (Diamond B), their captain at the U-19 World Cup earlier this year. Both were signed before the draft as direct local signings.
Crew:Evin Lewis, Thisara Perera, Hardus Viljoen, Dhananjaya de Silva, Shoaib Malik, Shahnawaz Dahani, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Maheesh Theekshana, Binura Fernando, Dunith Wellalage, Tristan Stubbs, Praveen Jayawickrama, Suminda Lakshan, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Danilshan Madasan, Dilshan Vijay Viyaskanth, Theesan Vidushan, Theivendiram Dinoshan, Ashan Randika
Twice the Gladiators have gone around the title and twice they have lost. The second loss might have hurt more than the first, not necessarily for the nature of it, but because leading into the final they seemed to have had the Kings’ number one. But if they want to go all the way this time around, they will have to do so without their skipper from last season, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who was signed by Dambulla Giants.
Although this loss probably hurts, the Gladiators managed to retain the services of Danushka Gunathilaka (Ruby) and Kusal Mendis (Diamond A) – the respective top scorers of the last two editions of the tournament. The rest of the squad have a much fresher take on it, with Pakistani all-rounders Imad Wasim (Ruby) and Faheem Ashraf (Sapphire) recruited directly from overseas ahead of the draft.
Much like Kings, much of the Gladiators’ team build was done before the draft, with fast pitcher Dushmantha Chameera (Sapphire) and left-arm brewer Lakshan Sandakan (Diamond B) drafted as local signings. direct.
The big signing in the main draft for them was South African hitter Janneman Malan (Diamond A). Afghan footer Qais Ahmad (Diamond B) and Pakistani hitters Azam Khan (Diamond B) and Sarfaraz Ahmed (Platinum) completed the overseas selections.
Crew:Imad Wasim, Danushka Gunathilaka, Faheem Ashraf, Dushmantha Chameera, Janneman Malan, Sherfane Rutherford, Azam Khan, Kusal Mendis, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Thushara, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Pulina Tharanga, Nuwanidu Fernando, Nimesh Vimukthi, Mombipan Subin, Lakshan Gamage, Tharindu Kaushal , Sammu Ashan
If Gladiators are disappointed to fail twice in a row, spare a thought for Colombo Stars. In the inaugural edition, they stood out in the group stages, winning six games out of eight, before losing in the semi-finals to a Galle side who had slipped away with just two wins.
The last edition, however, was admittedly a cancellation, where despite having one of the most impressive squads on paper, they lacked consistency.
On the plus side, they successfully retained the services of several of their key players in Angelo Mathews (Ruby), Dinesh Chandimal (Diamond B), Seekkuge Prasanna (Platinum) and Jeffrey Vandersay (Platinum), while adding two exciting southpaws. batters to Charith Asalanka (Sapphire) and Niroshan Dickwella (Diamond A). However, they lost Chameera and Dhananjaya to rival sides, and there is also no Kusal Perera this year as he is recovering from injury.
In their overhaul, the Stars opted this year to cast their net a bit wider. The addition of Dwaine Pretorius (Ruby) as the first signing from abroad hints at an overall strategy of bringing in more players with versatile skills. Then there’s Dhananjaya Lakshan (Diamond B), who played a pivotal role in Galle’s run to the final in 2020, Ishan Jayaratne (Platinum) and Afghan all-round young bowler Karim Janat (Platinum).
Janat is one of three Afghan fast bowlers on the team, alongside Fazalhaq Farooqi (Diamond B) and Naveen-ul-Haq. West Indies’ Dominic Drakes (Diamond A) provides another versatile option.
In the batting department, the stars are mostly set, and the signing of Pakistani Asif Ali (Sapphire) will bring additional weight to an already strong roster.
Crew:Dwaine Pretorius, Angelo Mathews, Asif Ali, Charith Asalanka, Dominic Drakes, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen-ul-Haq, Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Karim Janat, Seekkuge Prasanna, Jeffrey Vandersay, Ishan Jayaratne, Mudhait, Kevin Koththigoda, Chathuranga Kumara, Navod Paranavithana, Chamod Threshing
Giants of Dambulla
Led by Dasun Shanaka, the national captain of the T20I, the Dambulla franchise prided themselves on deceiving in both LPL outings, going from impressive to mediocre performances. If they were to find some consistency, it feels like they could be a match for any team, but finding the necessary balance has proven elusive – although the signing of Rajapaksa (Sapphire) is definitely a step in the right direction.
Rajapaksa, the former Galle Gladiators skipper, has been a consistent performer in the LPL, and his addition gives the middle order some much-needed bite. Especially after last season’s campaign was spent almost exclusively in the form of the opening pair of Phil Salt and Dickwella – both of whom are no longer in the squad.
The lack of big hitters was further addressed by the signings of Australian all-rounders D’Arcy Short (Ruby) and Ben Cutting (Sapphire), while New Zealand wicketkeeper Tim Seifert and Pakistani slugger Haider Ali – both in the Diamond B category – further strengthening the Giants middle order.
Short’s wrist is likely to come in handy on the Sri Lankan pitches, although it’s another wrist, Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichhane (Diamond A), who is likely to get the top mark on this forehead. Lamichhane has been a BBL regular, netting 34 wickets over the past three seasons. It will be interesting to see the impact he can have in the LPL, given the spinners’ influence in previous seasons.
Chaturanga de Silva, Hasaranga’s older brother, was also drafted in the Diamond A category along with West Indies left arm tailor Sheldon Cottrell (Diamond B). The Giants have also retained the services of all-around spin bowler Ramesh Mendis (Diamond B) and fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep (Diamond B).
Crew:D’Arcy Short, Dasun Shanaka, Ben Cutting, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Sandeep Lamichhane, Tim Seifert, Haider Ali, Chaturanga de Silva, Ramesh Mendis, Nuwan Pradeep, Sheldon Cottrell, Tharindu Ratnayake, Pramod Madushan, Lasith Croospulle, Kalana Perera, Dilum Sudeera , Sachitha Jayathilake, Dushan Hemantha, Sacha De Alwis, Ravindu Fernando
There have been three ownership (and name) changes in three seasons for the Falcons (formerly Warriors and Tuskers), and they’re certainly hoping for the third chance.
The first edition saw them struggle to even register a win. They didn’t do much better last season either, recording only two wins during the tournament. But this season they have made as clear a statement of intent as possible, signing Sri Lanka’s first spinner Hasaranga (Ruby) as their first signing priority ahead of the draft. Hasaranga was arguably the most destructive bowler in the LPL, taking 28 wickets across two editions, while also capable of heavy hitting with the bat. Not only does his addition strengthen the Falcons, but he also significantly weakens the defending champions Kings, who they ripped him from.
Another player retired from the Kings is Pakistan’s Usman Shinwari (Platinum), who will lead a fairly light-paced attack consisting of 19-year-old Matheesha Pathirana (Diamond B) and versatile bowlers Carlos Brathwaite (Ruby), Chamika Karunaratne ( Sapphire) and Isuru Udana (Diamond A) – all three of which will add power options further down the order.
Brathwaite isn’t the only West Indian on the team, with spin-bowling all-rounder Fabian Allen (Sapphire) and top-notch hitter Andre Fletcher (Diamond A) picked up in the main draft.
South African Dewald Brevis (Diamond B) and Australian Chris Green (Diamond B) round out the overseas draft picks. Brevis recently had an impressive showing in the IPL for the Mumbai Indians, while Green showed his utility with bat and ball in the BBL and T20 Blast.
Crew:Carlos Brathwaite, Wanindu Hasaranga, Fabian Allen, Chamika Karunaratne, André Fletcher, Dewald Brevis, Chris Green, Isuru Udana, Matheesha Pathirana, Ashen Bandara, Usman Shinwari, Kamindu Mendis, Ashan Priyanjan, Minod Bhanuka, Avishka Perera, Ashi, Janith Liyanage, Lasith Abeyratne, Kavin Bandara
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