Sri Lanka are in a rebuilding phase. During this phase, they have picked some gems that will shine in the years to come. One of them is Charith Asalanka. The left-hander has been a real find for Sri Lanka in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, judging from his performances in the five games.
Right from the first Super 12s game against Bangladesh, Asalanka has revelled with the bat. Coming in at No 3, he brings a refreshingly positive approach that calms Sri Lanka after the fall of an opener. It’s similar to the calmness that Asanka Gurusinha brought to bear at the crease. But Asalanka plays far more strokes than Gurusinha and is unafraid to attack the bowlers.
With Sri Lanka tending to lose one of the openers early, Asalanka comes right into the powerplay, and he doesn’t miss any chance to loft over the infield when the fielders are up. That enables Sri Lanka to pick up the scoring pace and wrest back the momentum. He has already become the leading run-getter in the tournament, overtaking England Jos Buttler.
Asalanka is a natural stroke player with a penchant for fast bowling and is equally adept at playing spin. That allows him to extend his strokeplay from the powerplay to the middle-overs before Bhanuka Rajapaksa takes over the big-hitting towards the slog.
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Rajapaksa and Asalanka have shown plenty of promise in the tournament, and it won’t be a surprise if they fill the breach left by the retirements of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. This Sri Lankan team could be formidable opponents in two years, as Pathum Nissanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera and others gain ample experience.
For them, the World Cup has been a learning experience. And Asalanka has been one of the breakout stars. Keep an eye on him.