With five-for, Wellalage lives up to expectations

Colombo, Sep 12 (PTI) Dunith Wellalage has always been marked for bigger things on a cricket field in Lankan circles, and on Tuesday he underlined his credentials with a brilliant five-for against India in the Asia Cup Super 4 match here.

Those who know Wellalage would not have been surprised one bit as cricket is in the blood of the 20-year-old, who hails from Moratuwa, the fertile cricket base of Sri Lanka.

His father Suranga Wellalage was a wicketkeeper batsman himself, and had once appeared in a few matches for the Prince of Wales team before diverting his career.

But it was his son’s destiny to climb the ladder, and represent the country from age-group to top-flight cricket.

“I first saw him in a school match while he was playing for St Sebastian’s. The boy had wonderful timing and was a natural talent. He was very handy with the ball too,” said Roger Wijesuriya, the former Sri Lankan cricketer.

Soon, Wellalage shifted his base to St Joseph’s College in Colombo seeking a better, more established cricket facility.

The school has an illustrious alumni list that includes Sri Lankan cricketers like Angelo Mathews, Dimuth Karunaratne and Thissara Perera.

“Once he enrolled into the school, we decided to give him as much opportunity to grow as a cricketer. He was a hard-working kid with a clear vision about his career.

“We just helped him along, and he was a heavy-scorer and took wickets regularly for his school side. He was easily a step or two ahead of other boys around,” said Wijesuriya who mentored and coached Wellalage at the school.

However, Wellalage first made an impression at a big stage during the U-19 World Cup in the West Indies.

That tournament had given the cricketing world several talented kids apart from Wellalage.

The likes of Dewald Brevis and Indian youngsters Yash Dhull and Raj Angad Bawa hogged limelight in that tournament.

“Yeah! It was a breakout tournament for him. It gave him the confidence that he can do well for his country on big stages. It kind of mentally prepared him as he always had the skills,” he said.

In that U-19 World Cup, Wellalage emerged the highest wicket-taker, grabbing 17 wickets from six matches, besides scoring 264 runs with a hundred.

Wellalage also became the first Sri Lankan captain to score a hundred in the Under-19 World Cup during that tournament.

The Sri Lanka senior team debut did not take long as he was given the cap during the first ODI against Australia at Pallekele earlier this June.

His maiden international wicket was Steve Smith, no less.

Now at the Premadasa Stadium, Wellalage has added some more hefty names to that list – Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya and Shubman Gill.

“He has made a good beginning. But he still has a long way to go. But I am sure that this boy is the future flag-bearer of Sri Lankan cricket,” said Wijesuriya, who has seen several young talents up close.

Source: PTI News


Share The Article:

Leave A Reply