‘Defending Champions’ was indeed the finest tag to be seen in the t-shirt of a diehard Sri Lanka cricket fan not so many years back. It was that glorious time when the mere mention of the word ‘Cricket’ left the Sri Lankan hardcore fan base having goosebumps, ever since Sri Lanka cricket took a victorious leap forward in the ICC ranking winning two World cups in 1996 and 2014. Despite being a fan or not, every Sri Lankan loved this sport as it took the name of our motherland to greater heights.

So let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at the history of Sri Lankan cricket running all the way back to the 1900s. Britain’s introduced cricket in the 19th century and Sri Lanka played the first ODI in 1975 against West Indies and the first test match against England in 1982. The year 1996 remarks as 'The Golden year of Sri Lankan Cricket' as Sri Lanka won the 1996 World Cup under the captaincy of legendary Mr. Arjuna Ranathunga, bringing the whole nation together. Furthermore, Sri Lanka won the ICC T20 World cup against India in 2014 while proving that Sri Lanka has great players.

Nevertheless, things are not looking good for the reigning champions of the 2014 edition. The team’s two mainstays, Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara, retired after decades of service to their country in 2015. In addition, the Sri Lankan team was destabilized with the gradual retirement of senior members such as T.M Dilshan, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, and Rangana Herath. This significantly blew Sri Lanka cricket since there were no mature players for proper back row leadership while Sri Lanka seems thin on performance.

“The seeker finds”, making that saying a truth; several players based on domestic performances have been picked finally after the departure of Sanga-Mahela. The first player we focus on here is Wanindu Hasaranga, who commenced his cricket life at Richmond College Galle as a right-arm medium first bowler and got selected to the under 19 national cricket team. He delivered an outstanding performance in his first ODI against Zimbabwe in 2017 by pulling off a Hat-trick. When considering the Sri Lankan tour of Pakistan in 2019, Wanindu Hasaranga took three wickets in his second successive match. Despite the fact that Sri Lanka is being placed at the bottom in ICC rankings while Pakistan taking its place among the top 5 teams, it is undoubtedly evident that Sri Lankan cricket still thrives to exist by strongly declaring to the world through his outstanding performance. The Sri Lankan team which had suffered a setback was revived after this tournament.

Wanindu Hasaranga is an all-rounder who always marks a turning point from his performance at a crucial match. Going back to the Indian tour of Sri Lanka, which was in July 2021, he paved the way for the victory by adding only nine runs for the opponent's scoreboard. Further to that, he was thrust into the limelight after getting four wickets thereby elevating him to the second rank among T20 bowlers, which in fact remains as the glimmer of hope for the enthusiastic Sri Lankan fans.

Another individual who should be spoken of is Dushmantha Chameera. Over the past decades, Sri Lanka has had few exciting fast bowlers coming up through the ranks with the ability to ball at greater speed. With the retirement of Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lankan team has experimented some new faces to re-fill the missing pieces. Ultimately Sri Lankan trainers introduced Dushmantha Chameera as a right-arm fast bowler who fit into the above category. Chameera made his ODI debut for Sri Lanka against New Zealand in 2015.

Though he did not appear in the Sri Lankan team very often due to some injuries, he managed to enlighten the team with his meritorious performances. In the third match against Bangladesh in 2021, Chameera took his first five-wicket haul in an ODI and was also the man of the match, making our motherland proud.

As a result of Wanindu's and Chameera's hard work and dedication, they have got selected for the Indian Premier League and will be playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Being chosen for IPL is no ordinary achievement but rather a milestone opening doors to new beginnings earned through committed hard work by our skilful players. Hence keeping the spirits high let’s hope for the best while wishing our upcoming legendary players to perform well in the IPL.

Hold on!! Before we wrap things up, we have a huge cricket fan in our RACUOCFMF family. Guess who? It’s none other than our very own VP Rtr. Saseni.

When you win a World Cup you do it for your country, for your teammates and then for yourself, in that order. We have faith that this group of players can achieve the dream again and we hope they have that faith too. All we need to do is watch and cheer for them. Moreover, time will transform them into titans.

Sink in here to watch the 2nd ODI Highlights of SL vs SA 2021

Written By:-
Rtr. Dunil Somanayake
(Member 2021-22)

Edited By:-
Rtr. Githma Dissanayake
(Blog Team Member 2021-22)

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