Galle Gladiators' journey in the inaugural Lanka Premier League is panning out in a fairytale-like manner after they defeated Colombo Kings by a narrow margin to book a spot in the final.
Having only just found form following five consecutive losses in the initial half of the competition, Gladiators rode on Dhananjaya Lakshan's heroic all-round performance to beat Kings by two wickets and a ball to spare.
Galle looked bruised and battered after suicidal running between the wickets accounting for two batsmen before Lakshan provided some sense of stability in the death overs.
Coming in to bat at No. 8, Lakshan showed remarkable maturity for his age and refrained from reckless strokeplay to nudge Galle closer to the target.
Gladiators' cause was helped by a mighty maximum launched by Mohammad Amir in the 17th over off Qais Ahmad to drag the equation to 23 from 18 deliveries.
Tight bowling in the next two overs and Amir's dismissal piled pressure on Galle, leaving Lakshan and tail-ender Lakshan Sandakan the steep task of getting 15 runs in the last over.
Colombo then botched a catching opportunity offered by Lakshan on the first ball as Qais dropped the chance.
The third ball of the over disappeared for a superb six blasted by Lakshan but he was kept to just a single on the subsequent delivery.
With four required off two, Colombo skipper Angelo Mathews opted for mid-on and mid-off in the circle instead of protecting the boundary. He was made to rue this decision a split second later when Sandakan swatted the ball towards the vacant long-off region for a four sparking jubilant celebrations in the Galle camp.
Contrary to the narrative built ahead of the match, the in-form Danushka Gunathilaka could not contribute much with the bat in Galle's chase.
Gladiators' captain Bhanuka Rajapaksa and hard-hitting prodigy Azam Khan unleashed a counterattack after an early wobble.
However, both batsmen perished while trying to continue their unrestrained rampage. The rescue job was ultimately performed by Lakshan in a miraculous heist for Galle.
In the first innings, Lakshan and Sandakan were both at the front of Colombo Kings' batting capitulation. Lakshan produced a beauty to knock over Dinesh Chandimal early in the fray and Sandakan ripped through the Kings' middle-order to pick three key wickets.
Amidst the chaos, Daniel Bell-Drummond batted impeccably for his valiant 53-ball 70, which lifted his team to a competitive 150/9 in 20 overs.