Sri Lanka all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga took last year’s ICC T20 World Cup by storm and played a major role in helping his side win the recent Asia Cup – and it was just the latest step in the rise of the island nation’s latest superstar.
Talking on The ICC Review, Sri Lanka legend Mahela Jayawardena spoke about Hasaranga’s meteoric rise, shedding light on his early years and growing maturity while also drawing a link with another Sri Lankan great, Lasith Malinga.
Hasaranga was touted to hit the highs this year, especially after wowing the crowds during the T20 World Cup in 2021 when he picked up 16 wickets to finish as the top wicket-taker at the tournament.
He has carried on that form in 2022, playing a crucial role in Sri Lanka’s success at the Asia Cup, his contributions with the bat also gaining heft. The all-rounder was the second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament with nine scalps and also chipped in with 66 runs, including an important 36 and 3/27 in the final against Pakistan.
He was named Player of the Tournament, and it was the latest milestone in Hasaranga’s burgeoning reputation as a player for the big occasion. All of which has convinced Jayawardena that Hasaranga has leadership qualities to go with all that firepower.
“In the last 12 months, he has shown how mature he is – not just as a bowler but with the bat as well. In tough situations, he has really come and delivered,” Jayawardena said.
“But as a leader in that group, even if he doesn’t have the title as the vice-captain or the captain or anything like that, but underneath all of that he has become a leader who all the young guys look up to.”
Jayawardena has known Hasaranga since he was a 19-year-old, thanks to former team-mate Chaturanga de Silva, Hasaranga’s brother.
“To be honest, his brother was actually playing cricket while we were playing cricket as well,” Jayawardena said. “So Wanindu was much younger, was playing Under-19 cricket when we were finishing off and then he started playing first-class cricket”.
“We always knew that this guy can bowl and bat, but we never knew the quality of bowler he could turn out to be. I mean initially, he didn’t have the accuracy but he always had some X-factor about him, how he went about things.
“That’s where Sri Lanka invested in him when he was quite young, especially in white-ball cricket.”
Jayawardena sees quite a lot of similarities between Hasaranga and Malinga – both started off shy before blossoming into cornerstones of the Sri Lankan side.
“The way he has blossomed … he’s also from down south, quite close to where Lasith was and they have similar mannerisms,” Jayawardena noted.
“The way they both came out, they started their careers quietly – you know, sat in the corner of the dressing room – and little by little they grew. The hairstyles change, the tattoos came out and the whole thing.
“It (Hasaranga’s development) is quite similar to how Lasith became who Lasith was, and that’s how I see the way Wanindu has blossomed as a player.”
The biggest similarity between the two is their fierce competitiveness, according to Jayawardena.
“The most important thing is, once they cross the field, like Lasith, he is a competitor – that’s what I love about him,” Jayawardena said.
Hasaranga has now become one of the premier all-rounders in the shortest format of the game. He has risen to No.3 in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I Rankings for bowlers, and No.4 in the all-rounders’ T20I rankings.
And at only 25, the potential is limitless.
“He is still young and (there is) a lot of cricket in front of him,” Jayawardena said.
“So long as he understands what needs to be done and be competitive out there, that’s the most important thing.”
Hathurusingha named Bangladesh head coach
Bangladesh Cricket Board, on Tuesday (31), said that Chandika Hathurusingha has been named as the new head coach for a two-year period. He is expected to join the set-up in February.
“We have appointed Hathurusingha for two years as across the format head coach,” BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury was quoted by Cricbuzz as having said.
The former Sri Lanka all-rounder had earlier served as the head coach of Bangladesh from 2014 to 2017. He has also served in various coaching positions with Sri Lanka, Canada, NSW and Sydney Thunder.
In his previous coaching tenure, Bangladesh had won ODI series against India, Pakistan and South Africa, alongside achieving Test victories versus Sri Lanka, England and Australia. During his stint, Bangladesh also reached the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy in 2017.
“It’s an honour to have been given this opportunity to coach the Bangladesh national team once again. I really loved the warmth of the people and the culture of Bangladesh whenever I have been there. I’m looking forward to working with the players once again and enjoy their successes,” he said in a press release.
Cricbuzz had earlier reported that BCB is unlikely to continue with split coaching and Hathurusingha is the front-runner to replace Russell Domingo, who resigned before completing his stint that ran until the end of the 50-over ICC World Cup.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s Test and T20I skipper Shakib Al Hasan remained tightlipped on the return of Hathurusingha as the head coach. No comments,” it’s all right,” he said, without elaborating further.
Methwan wins marathon encounter
ITF Junior Circuit Tennis
Methwan Wijemanne overcame Josh Hinton of Great Britain in a marathon three and half hour battle to win the first-round encounter of the ITF Junior Circuit Week 1 Tennis Event at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Tuesday.
Wijemanne scored 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 against Hinton.
ITF Junior Circuit Tennis Tournament which is currently underway in Colombo will conclude on February 5.
Meanwhile, in another first-round encounter, Nithila Goonathilake beat Aryan Mehata of India 6-3, 6-0.
England Lions strongly placed
Top-order batsmen Alex Lees, Haseeb Hameed and Tom Haines scored half-centuries for visiting England Lions to reach 249 for three wickets at stumps after they dismissed the hosts for 136 on day one of the unofficial Test at Galle on Tuesday.
Sadeera Samarawickrama with 43 runs was the top scorer for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka ‘A’
136 all out in 35.4 overs (Oshada Fernando 21, Sadeera Samarawickrama 43, Lakshaitha Manasinghe 26; Matthew Fisher 5/34, Liam Patterson-White 3/51)
249 for 3 in 48 overs (Alex Lees 56, Haseeb Hameed 81, Tom Haines 62, Josh Bohannon 26n.o.; Lasith Embuldeniya 2/89)
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