Sri Lanka's Dilshan Madushanka
Sri Lanka's Dilshan Madushanka in action during their match against Bangladesh in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023, at Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi on Monday. Image Credit: ANI

Bengaluru: Dilshan Madushanka's World Cup ends on Thursday with the Sri Lanka fast bowler on top of the wicket-taking charts, the latest highlight in a career which began in borrowed shoes.

The son of a fisherman, Madushanka goes into the game against New Zealand with 21 wickets, more than celebrated fellow fast bowlers Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.

Amongst the left-armer's collection were the marquee dismissals of India's Virat Kohli and Australian duo, David Warner and Steve Smith.

Sadly for Madushanka, he found little support from the other end during the tournament - fellow quick Kasun Rajitha is the next best Sri Lankan on the list with eight wickets.

"We would have liked to have somebody to support and back up Dilshan (who's had) a brilliant tournament," said Sri Lanka assistant coach Naveed Nawaz on Wednesay.

"So, it's a disappointment, I should say."

Sri Lanka's Dilshan Madushanka
Sri Lanka's Dilshan Madushanka Image Credit: AFP

A fairytale journey

Madushanka's journey has been nothing short of a fairytale.

He had to drop out of serious cricket early on as he and his school could not afford the luxuries of the game including pads and balls.

He then turned to the less expensive soft-ball cricket where he was spotted by a district coach who helped him get selected as a net bowler for the India and Sri Lanka Under-19 teams.

Madushanka went through the sessions with borrowed shoes that hurt him.

He still impressed with his performance and soon received a call from former Sri Lanka left-arm quick Chaminda Vaas who is now part of the squad's coaching set-up.

"He can go far and emerge as one of the greatest fast bowlers ever produced in Sri Lanka," Vaas confidently predicted to Indian magazine Sportstar.

"If he can work on these things, I am sure,

Madushanka made his international Twenty20 debut in last year's Asia Cup in Dubai and played a key part in the team's title win.

His ODI bow in India followed earlier this year before injuries to Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga meant he became the pivot of the Sri Lankan attack in the World Cup.

So far, he has 31 wickets in 14 ODIs with a decent average of just over 22.

He also enjoyed a maiden five-wicket haul against India in this World Cup although that game ended in embarrassment with Sri Lanka bowled out for just 55 in a 302-run rout.

The 1996 champions only have two wins from eight games against Netherlands and England.

They conclude their group campaign on Thursday against semi-final hopefuls New Zealand in Bengaluru.