The Sri Lankan Premier League heads towards the end of its group round of matches as Nagenahira Nagas take on Uva Next on Monday in the last match before semi-finals.
The race for the semi-finals is still on with one spot remaining.
Uva Next are in their comfort zone, having qualified by virtue of seven points from five matches. Their last match, against Kandurata Warriors, was abandoned due to rain that gave each side one point and an entry into the last four.
With Monday’s match being just a mere formality now, they can afford to experiment a bit with their line up. Uva also need to decide on the replacement for Shoaib Malik who has gone on international duty.
Umar Gul, while being available, could be given a rest ahead of the crucial semi-final fixture. Thilina Kandamby, the captain, has expressed delight at the results so far and will be expecting high levels of competitiveness from his players on Monday.
Nagenahira Nagas are still waiting on their chances as they will have a close eye on the ongoing match that features Ruhuna Royals.
Should Royals lose that match against the mighty Wayamba United, Nagas will qualify and leave tomorrow’s match a mere formality. However, the situation gets interesting should Royals win.
In that scenario, Nagas will have to secure at least one point to be sure of reaching the semi finals as their run rate is poorer in comparison to Ruhuna Royals.
The Nagas also lost, in perhaps unexpected circumstances, by 15 runs to Uthura Rudras.
While they are missing a few key international players, it will no doubt be the responsibility of Ahmed Shahzad and Travis Birt to step up and be counted. However, it will also be down to the domestic cricketers to step up to the plate given how their quality of play could change things around in favour of one or the other team.
Difficult picking a winner though Uva will be ahead.