Ever since the retirements of stalwarts like Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Lasith Malinga, the results of the Sri Lankan national cricket team has been lacklustre. The last four years have not been easy for the Lankan cricket fan or the team.
But every dark night has an end, and it seems like the dawn is about to break for Sri Lanka in limited-overs cricket. While the rise isn’t obviously seen in the immediate results, the underlying potential of the upcoming stars holds a beacon of hope.
Sri Lanka’s performances have wins peppered around some heavy losses but do not let that blind you.
Indian T20 League performers
Sri Lankan cricketers caused a stir in the cricketing globe with their outstanding performance in the 15th edition of the Indian T20 League. Mystery spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana have played key roles in their team. Bhanuka Rajapaksa, the top-order batsman, and pacer Dushmantha Chameera have been good as well.
Hasaranga played 16 matches and picked up 26 wickets at an economy of 7.54. Theekshana did not play as much but still managed to scalp 12 wickets in nine matches. Rajapaksa was the batting star for the Sri Lankan contingent. He had a bright start and ended up scoring 206 runs in nine matches for Punjab. Chameera’s nine wickets came at a cost (average 42.67, economy 8.73), but he was a part of an impressive Lucknow team.
Talent pool and experience
The talent pool doesn’t end there. Danushka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka and Chameera Karunaratne all have been successful batters in the last three years. Asalanka and Karunaratne have the two highest batting averages in this span, with 42.9 and 38.42 runs per innings, respectively.
From a bowling perspective, Hasaranga is definitely the leader. Young left arm spinner Dunith Wellalage has shown a lot of promise, along with 19 year old fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana. Pathirana has been labelled “an even more extreme version of (Lasith) Malinga.” Add to that the potential experience of Lakmal, Angelo Mathews and Thisara Parera, the bowling attack is not to be ignored. The trio of Lakmal, Mathews and Parera have picked up a total of 404 international wickets, and their mentorship can be a valuable asset to the team.
All the cogs of this Sri Lankan side aren’t fitted yet and are not running smoothly, but they do possess the tools. The talent coming through and the valuable experience already at hand means the bad days of Sri Lankan white-ball cricket are about to end.
Featured photo: AFP / ISHARA S. KODIKARA