The draft for the third edition of the Lanka Premier League was held on Tuesday evening, with each of the five franchises allowed to pick six international players, with one from each price category barring Gold and Silver. Sri Lankan players were available for all categories. The pre-draft portion of the squad selection, however, meant that for many of the teams the top-tier draft picks had been decided well in advance of the draft proper.
The draft included players in seven price points: Ruby (US$ 60,000; approx LKR 21.5 million) Sapphire ($ 50,000; approx LKR 18 million), Diamond A ($ 40,000; approx LKR 14 million), Diamond B ($ 25,000; approx LKR 9 million), Platinum ($ 15000; approx LKR 5 million), Gold ($ 10,000; approx LKR 3.5 million) and Silver ($ 3000; approx LKR 1 million).
Here’s how the teams stack up.
Who to start with than Jaffna Kings? Formerly Stallions, they are two in two in the LPL finals and are no doubt the team to beat. If you were to pinpoint the reason for their success, though, you would boil it down to shrewd team building, which has left the other franchises playing catch-up.
But all good things must come to an end, and this season will certainly put Kings’ think tank to the test, first and foremost in navigating 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, Kings focused on rebuilding their core of the last two years as much as possible and picked Thisara (Ruby), Malik (Sapphire), and Theekshana (Diamond A) pre-draft and Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz in the draft.
Squad: 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, Dilshan Madushanka, Nipun Dananjaya, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, Theesan Vidushan, Theivendiram Dinoshan, Ashan Randika
Much like Kings, a large part of Gladiators’ squad-building was done pre-draft, with fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera (Sapphire) and left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan (Diamond B) drafted as direct local signings.
Squad: 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, Movin Subasinhga, Nipun Malinga, Sachindu Colombage, Lakshan Gamage, Tharindu Kaushal, Sammu Ashan
The last edition, though, was admittedly a write-off, where despite having one of the more impressive squads on paper, they lacked consistency.
However, they lost both Chameera and Dhananjaya to rival sides, and there is no Kusal Perera either this year as he is recovering from an injury.
Janat is one of three Afghanistan fast bowlers in the squad, alongside Fazalhaq Farooqi (Diamond B) and Naveen-ul-Haq. West Indies’ Dominic Drakes (Diamond A) offers another all-round option.
In the batting department, Stars are mostly set, and the signing of Pakistan’s Asif Ali (Sapphire) will provide further heft to an already robust line-up.
Squad: 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, Muditha Lakshan, Lakshitha Manasinghe, Kevin Koththigoda, Chathuranga Kumara, Navod Paranavithana, Chamod Battage
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 had run almost exclusively on the form of the opening pair of Phil Salt and Dickwella – both of whom are no longer part of the squad.
Squad: 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
It has been three changes of ownership (and names) in three seasons for Falcons (formerly Warriors and Tuskers), and they will certainly be hoping to be third time lucky.
Hasaranga has been without a doubt the LPL’s most destructive bowler, taking 28 wickets across two editions, while he is also capable of hefty blows with the bat. Not only does his addition strengthen Falcons, it also significantly weakens the defending champions Kings, from whom they nicked him.
Brathwaite isn’t the only West Indian in the side, with spin-bowling allrounder Fabian Allen (Sapphire) and top-order batter Andre Fletcher (Diamond A) picked up in the main draft.
Squad: Carlos Brathwaite, Wanindu Hasaranga, Fabian Allen, Chamika Karunaratne, Andre Fletcher, Dewald Brevis, Chris Green, Isuru Udana, Matheesha Pathirana, Ashen Bandara, Usman Shinwari, Kamindu Mendis, Ashan Priyanjan, Minod Bhanuka, Avishka Perera, Ashian Daniel, Malinda Pushpakumara, Janith Liyanage, Lasith Abeyratne, Kavin Bandara