Jaffna Stallions win Lanka Premier League (LPL) championship


Jaffna Stallions won the first ever Lanka Premier League (LPL) tournament in Sri Lanka. The tournament was played in a secure bio-bubble with local and international cricketers in Hambantota.

The final was played against the Galle Gladiators and batting first the Stallions posted 188-6, with crucial knocks from veteran Shoaib Malik, Dananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera.

Shoaib Malik top scores for Jaffna in the crucial final. Picture by Thusith Wijeduro

Galle’s reply got off the worst possible start when the tournament’s highest run scorer Dhanushka Gunatallika was run out following a collision with Stallions bowler Suranga Lakmal.

Despite some lusty blows from Galle skipper Banuka Rajapaksa and keeper Azam Khan the target was out of reach.

Galle finished its 20 overs at 135 for nine.

“Just wow,” tweeted Canadian co-owner Rahul Sood.

Jaffna Stallions’ CEO Anandan Arnold and COO Paven Savuntharasa join in the celebrations.

A millionaire at 19 after creating Voodoo PC, the 47-year-old Sood is now co-founder and CEO of Unikrn (pronounced Unicorn), an esports betting platform that operates in 43 countries, the Canadian Press reported.

Sood and Sri Lankan native Anandan Arnold are majority owners of the Stallions. Arnold, a senior partner at BBK Partnership Chartered Accountants in the United Kingdom, serves as the Stallions chief executive officer.

The Jaffna Stallions have announced to further cricket infrastructure in Northern region of Sri Lanka. ESPN Cricinfo reported many have promised to develop the sport in the North but have never delivered as the region only has one turf wicket.

“But in outlining a workable mission (at odds with the kinds of grand proclamations Jaffna has previously attracted), and in fielding the Jaffna-bred teenager Vijayakanth Viyaskanth during the league stage, Stallions have indicated a seriousness to their intentions,” Andrew Fidel Fernando, Sri Lanka correspondent for ESPN wrote.

Vijayakanth Viyaskanth receives his cap on debut.

CEO Anandan Arnold, who grew up in Jaffna and now runs an accounting firm largely based in the UK, said the franchise is initiating the process of setting up a small academy in Jaffna, with turf pitches, and at least one dedicated coach. An old-boy of St. John’s College Jaffna, Arnold had previously been instrumental in the laying of a turf side net at his school.

“We’ve earmarked some land at very low rent, and we’d like to get the academy going sometime in the next two months,” Arnold told ESPNcricinfo.

Vijayakanth Viyaskanth celebrates his first wicket.

“What we are also envisaging is to have equipment that we will buy and keep, so that kids from very poor schools can come and have a go. People in Jaffna are still playing cricket mainly with tennis or rubber balls. Not many have access to a leather ball. We will provide equipment so raw talents can come through.”