The tournament will be played at two venues in Colombo and Hambantota
The Lanka Premier League 2021 will begin on December 5 with the final set for December 23, SLC has confirmed. The first match, which will be held at the R Premadasa stadium in Colombo, will be between last year’s finalists Galle Gladiators and the renamed Jaffna Kings, while the final will take place in Hambantota.
“The first round of the tournament, which will consist of 20 games will be played at the RPICS, Colombo before it moves into MRICS, Hambantota to proceed with the final round games,” a media release stated.
The tournament format has also been rejigged from the first edition, with the inclusion of an Eliminator, which several players had called for last year. The playoffs will see the top-two teams in the points table face off in Qualifier 1, while the teams placed third and fourth will face each other in the Eliminator, and the loser of Qualifier 1 will play the winner of the Eliminator in Qualifier 2 for a place in the final against the winner of Qualifier 1.
In the first edition, four of the five teams had progressed to a semi-finals stage in which each of those sides had an equal chance of making the final – a structure that many felt seriously devalued the results from the much longer league stage.
A reserve day has also been allocated this year for the final, on December 24.
Although the inaugural edition had largely been deemed a success, the lead-up to the second season has faced significant hurdles. The tournament has had to be postponed twice in order to avoid clashes with other T20 leagues around the world. And of the five franchises that competed in the first edition, at least three have been terminated by organisers, most controversially the Jaffna Stallions franchise, who had won the first season. Upon their exit, Stallions’ owners alleged mismanagement and a lack of transparency within the league.
This year’s edition has reportedly seen 74 international cricketers register for the player draft, including Imran Tahir, Mohammad Amir, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Dawid Malan and Faf du Plessis, though this does not mean these players will necessarily play in the tournament – merely that they have expressed their interest. In total, 225 player applications have been approved for the player draft. Each of the five teams will be allowed a squad of 20 players, including six overseas players.