Colombo Kings topped the league, winning six of their eight games, and yet lost the Lanka Premier League semi-final to a team that had suffered six defeats in the tournament. Perhaps understandably, they feel aggrieved at the tournament’s format.
On the day after their tournament exit, Kings captain Angelo Mathews said that although the LPL has been an overwhelmingly positive experience overall, the league would have been better off if it had ditched the traditional semi-final system, and utilised an IPL-style playoff structure. As per the IPL’s rules, the two league-toppers have potentially two attempts to make the final, while teams ranked No. 3 and 4 have a tougher route to the trophy.
“After doing so well – winning six out of the eight matches, and then having one bad day and having to go home – it’s really disappointing,” Mathews told ESPNcricinfo. “When you top the table, you should get another go, like with an IPL-style playoffs. The way things are, teams will know that if they win two or three games, they’ll qualify for the semi-final. Then there’s no reason for them to keep going and keep the intensity up. That shouldn’t be the case. I’m sure the organisers will look into it next year.”
Mathews had expressed a preference for a playoffs system even before Sunday’s semi-final, and Dambulla Viiking captain Dasun Shanaka had echoed that sentiment. Viiking finished second on the table.
“Not only us, everyone is of the view that when you’re playing eight league games, there should be some advantage to topping the table,” Mathews said. “There should be some cushioning.
“Still, it was a great tournament, and we should thank everyone who made it happen, including the government, the forces and the medical teams. Everything went smoothly.”
With several largely unknown Sri Lanka cricketers having shone at the tournament, Mathews spoke of the LPL as a learning experience for many.
“It was a great tournament, and we found some raw talents coming through. I’m really happy that guys got the opportunity to play with the likes of Andre Russell and Shoaib Malik. Our team had so many younger players and they were fortunate enough to share the dressing room with Russell. They told me personally that it was a fantastic experience. Bowling in the nets to Russell, I could see the guys trying to work out how best they could bowl at him, and also face him.
“I’m glad we were able to lock in foreign players like Russell, Laurie Evans, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Qais Ahmad and all these guys. They were fantastic. Even yesterday they said it was a great opportunity for them as well. Sri Lankans are welcoming, so they felt all the love and affection. They gave their best and played their hearts out. They put their thoughts on the table and shared their experience.”