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Feature

LPL: Dinesh Chandimal, Thisara Perera, Imran Tahir, Jayden Seales headline ESPNcricinfo's team of the tournament

Find out if your favourite player made it to our final XI for the LPL

Dambulla Giants' Phil Salt goes big on the on side, Colombo, December 6, 2021

Phil Salt made an impact for Dambulla Giants at the top of the order  •  AFP/Getty Images

After 20 league matches, and three playoff games, the second season of the LPL reaches its climax on Thursday night. Here's ESPNcricinfo's XI of the tournament.
1 Phil Salt (Dambulla Giants)
Runs: 301 runs, Strike rate: 154.35
Outstanding at the start of the tournament when he struck two rapid fifties in the space of three innings to give Giants' campaign their early impetus, Salt contributed consistently through the LPL, if not quite as spectacularly as in those early games. He was especially devastating on the front foot. A calm presence in the field too.
2 Kusal Mendis (Galle Gladiators)
Runs: 288, Strike rate: 150
Mendis hadn't played any serious competitive cricket since being suspended for breaking Covid protocols on tour, in June, and although he started the LPL slowly, his batting heated up just as Gladiators' campaign did - towards the end of the round robin. He is known for his excellent hitting of spin, but in some matches this tournament - such as in the qualifier against Kings, when he made 85 off 53 - he also took the seamers apart.
3 Avishka Fernando (Jaffna Kings)
Runs: 249, Strike rate: 152.76
Avishka wasn't exactly consistent, collecting four single-figure scores in his nine innings, but when he was in flow, no one was more devastating. His 100 off 64 balls in the second qualifier against Giants was the top score of the tournament. Earlier in the month, he had bludgeoned seven sixes (and no fours), during his 53 off 23 balls against Kandy Warriors.
4 Angelo Mathews (Colombo Stars)
Runs: 191, Strike rate: 128.18
Batted basically on one leg, intent on proving his worth in this format, Mathews put together two half-centuries in the five innings he was able to play in the LPL, and contributed in two other innings. Narrowly beats out Bhanuka Rajapaksa to this position. Rajapaksa was reasonably consistent and had a higher strike rate, but Mathews made more of an impact on the tournament, just slightly.
5 Dinesh Chandimal (Colombo Stars) (wk)
Runs: 277, Strike rate: 150.54
Pretty much no one would have picked Chandimal would be the LPL's most consistent finisher, not merely because it's been years since he batted this aggressively for an extended period, but also because he'd never effectively performed the finisher's role. Stars had a stuttering campaign, but owe their entry into the qualifiers to Chandimal, who took games deep and found boundaries all around the ground to get his team close on several occasions.
6 Thisara Perera (Jaffna Kings) (capt.)
Runs: 173 runs, Strike rate: 190.10
The most powerful hitter of the LPL, Perera batted like a man out for vengeance, after being left out of the Sri Lanka white-ball teams earlier in the year had prompted him to retire early. He faced only 91 balls in the tournament, struck 13% of those balls for six, and 14% for four - hitting a boundary once every four balls. Led the Jaffna franchise well, again.
7 Samit Patel (Galle Gladiators)
Wickets: 15, Economy rate: 5.5, Runs; 116, Strike rate: 111.53
Patel was almost indomitable in the round robin stage, when the dry Khettarama track provided plenty of assistance for his canny left-arm spin. Batters frequently perished trying to hit out against him. Although Gladiators did not have the best on-paper attack before the tournament, Patel's consistent contributions have wound up making them one of the tournament's best. Also occasionally contributed with the bat.
8 Dushmantha Chameera (Colombo Stars)
Wickets: 13, Economy rate: 8.9
Occasionally went for runs in a tournament that substantially favoured the bowlers, but his wickets were vital to Stars' campaign, on top of which he was the tournament's quickest bowler, sometimes roughing opposition batters with bouncers in the range of 145kph. Would likely have done even better if more matches had been played on the faster Hambantota track.
9 Maheesh Theekshana (Jaffna Kings)
Wickets: 15, Economy rate: 6.20
Arguably the bowler of the tournament, because he delivered so many of his overs inside the Powerplay, and was both a massive wicket-taking threat, and also very miserly, with the field still up. He set the tone for so many of Kings' excellent bowling performances. It's been a rapid rise in 2021 for Theekshana. Expect bigger T20 franchise tournaments to come knocking soon.
10 Imran Tahir (Dambulla Giants)
Wickets: 15, Economy rate: 6
At 42 years old, Imran Tahir shouldn't be out-performing the No. 1 T20 spinner in the world in his own backyard. But where Wanindu Hasaranga's googly occasionally went missing in the LPL, Tahir's flawless control, and excellent reading of batters reaped him six more wickets than Hasaranga, who was a tad more expensive than Tahir as well.
11 Jayden Seales (Jaffna Kings)
Wickets:14, Economy rate: 7.09
The best of the quicks in a tournament dominated by the spinners, Seales was sharp, accurate, and intelligent, creating wicket-taking opportunities through the middle overs, and shutting batters down at the death. Together with Theekshana, Hasaranga, and occasionally Suranga Lakmal, he was in integral part of the best attack of the tournament.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf