Kolkata: The Indian Premier League (IPL) had been, in recent years, conspicuously short of Sri Lankan talent once the likes of Mahela Jayawardene and Muttiah Muralitharan graduated into the role of coaches. Wanindu Hasaranga, the young leg spinner who was the matchwinner against Shikhar Dhawan’s visiting India in the T-20 series in July, may provide the X-factor when he turns out for Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in the second phase of IPL in the UAE next month.
The 24-year-old, now ranked second in the ICC rankings for T20 bowlers, has replaced Australia’s Adam Zampa - as the RCB camp announced three replcements, including his compatriot paceman Dusmantha Chameera, last Saturday. Hasaranga, who kept the Indian batsmen guessing with his flight and zip off the pitch, produced a dream haul of four for nine in the deciding T20 against India as the Islanders wrapped the series 2-1.
- IPL 2021 in UAE: Australia bowler Nathan Ellis joins Punjab Kings
- IPL 2021 in UAE: Shreyas Iyer or Rishabh Pant? Delhi Capitals face captaincy dilemma
- IPL 2021: Mumbai Indians’ Hardik Pandya joins a new club in UAE
- IPL 2021 in UAE: After pulling out of IPL, Buttler might skip Ashes and last Test v India
He along with senior pro Yuzvendra Chahal, the lead spinner for RCB for seasons together, can prove to be a handful in the spin department if Hasaranga can make the playing XI on the slow turners of the UAE - not to forget allrounder Washington Sundar.
“From sitting at home and watching them, to being a part of an amazing team. I am excited, honoured and thrilled all at once,” Hasaranga wrote on his Instagram handle soon after his news of his draft broke. A major plus point of Hasaranga, however, is his batting as he is ranked 12th among the T20 allrounders at the moment.
Even though Hasaranga made a modest T20 debut in Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) in 2017, he made his presence felt with a number of match-winning performances for the Jaffna Stallions in the 2020 edition of the Lanka Premier League (LPL). He was named Man of the Tournament after his team emerged champions last year. The LPL performance helped in opening up the doors for to the Sri Lankan national team.
First noticed during his performance in the Under-19 World Cup for the Lankans in 2016, Hasaranga has played against would-be RCB teammate Washington Sundar and a number of other new generation Indian stars during the India-Sri Lanka semi-final in that edition. Captain Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant and Avesh Khan were the others - Hasaranga went wicketless in that game and scored barely eight runs.
The start, of course, was not a smooth one for Hasaranga, when he made his T20 debut in the 2017 Bangladesh Premier League. He represented the Sylhet Sixers in his first match when Sylhet included him in their playing XI for the game against Dhaka Dynamites.
Batting first, Hasaranga’s team managed a paltry 101/9 in their 20 overs - a total which the Dynamites chased down in just 7.5 overs. Hasaranga bowled the last over of the game, where Evin Lewis smashed three sixes and finished things off in style.
He ended with an abysmal economy rate of 24 in his first T20 match, but Hasaranga had been a quick learner since then. He has so far played four Tests, 26 ODIs and 22 T20Is for Sri Lanka so far and taken a combined 62 wickets in them. In 60 T20s, he has taken 80 wickets at an average of 14.95 and an economy of 6.37 - which shows that the RCB team management has done their homework right.