Kolkata: It’s been been after quite a while that a Sri Lankan cricketer is making heads turn in the global fraternity of the game. Wanindu Hasaranga, the 24-year-old leg spinning allrounder, has been on a roll in the latter half the year - both in international and franchise cricket - and looks to be a name in the running to be the ICC Emerging Player of the Year.
Just ponder this for consistency - in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 in the UAE, he was the highest wicket-taker of the showpiece with 16 wickets from eight games though Sri Lanka failed to make it past the group stages. The Abu Dhabi T10 League which followed immediately after saw him emerge as the leading wicket-taker again with 21 wickets as his team Deccan Gladiators won their maiden title - prompting his captain Wahab Riaz to call him a ‘complete package’ in a recent chat with Gulf News.
Now back in Sri Lanka, he is keeping the batsmen guessing again with his variation as Hasaranga has already picked up five wickets in three games for Jaffna Kings in the ongoing Lanka Premier League (LPL). In the UAE leg of Indian Premier League in September-October, Hasaranga was snapped up as a replacement player by Royal Challengers Bangalore as he caught the fancy of their then skipper Virat Kohli.
RCB did not retain him for the 2022 edition alright, but he will be certainly one of the most sought-after names in the upcoming mega auction and going forward, Hasaranga has a bucket list of batsmen ready whose wickets he would like to take in the coming days.
I would love to get my favourite cricketer Virat Kohli’s wicket someday. I also want to pick Babar Azam and Glenn Maxwell’s wickets as well
“I would love to get my favourite cricketer Virat Kohli’s wicket someday. I also want to pick Babar Azam and Glenn Maxwell’s wickets as well,’’ Hasaranga said when asked to name the players whom he wishes to dismiss in his career.
Speaking to the LPL media, Hasaranga said he always tries to avoid bringing any undue pressure on himself with Lankan fans already comparing him with the two spin giants from the island nation - Muttiah Muralitharan and Rangana Herath. The legendary Murali still stands tall as the highest wicket-taker in Tests with 800 wickets while left-arm spinner Herath finished with 433 wickets.
“I am always motivated to perform. I don’t feel any pressure. I don’t want to be the next Muralitharan or the next Herath. I want to be the first Hasaranga,” he said.
Asked about the growing importance of leg spinners in T20 cricket - a format where the scales are heavily tilted in favour of the batsmen - Hasaranga explained: “Leg spinners can do anything because in T20 cricket, batsmen are going to hit big shots. We have a lot of variations. Sometimes, we can get hit for 40-50 runs in a match but in the next match, we find a way to get back and pick 4-5 wickets. Leg spinners can win matches for you,” he signed off.