Asia Cup 2023, India vs Sri Lanka: Who is Dunith Wellalage, who disrupted Men in Blue with 5-wicket haul?
Dunith Wellalage's exceptional five-wicket haul sent shockwaves through India's batting lineup in the Asia Cup Super 4 clash against Sri Lanka.
In a sunny backdrop, India won the toss and elected to bat first, setting the stage for an enthralling cricket encounter. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill embarked on the batting duties for India, with Rohit showcasing his impeccable form by becoming the second-fastest player to reach 10,000 ODI runs. In his signature style, Rohit sent a delivery sailing over the bowler's head for a magnificent six. He also eclipsed Shahid Afridi's record for the most sixes in the Asia Cup. However, India's early jubilation was short-lived, as Dunith Wellalage, with his very first delivery of the match, dismissed Shubman Gill in the 12th over. He followed this feat by sending Virat Kohli back to the pavilion, thwarting Kohli's quest for a fifth consecutive century at the R Premadasa Stadium. Wellalage continued his wicket-taking spree by claiming the prized scalp of Rohit Sharma.
KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan stepped in to steady the innings, constructing a patient 50-run partnership amidst the spin onslaught. However, Wellalage staged a comeback, securing his fourth wicket by dismissing Rahul for a well-fought 39 off 44 deliveries.
India's cricketing schedule has been relentless, with non-stop action since Sunday. Their intense match against Pakistan, which commenced on Sunday at 3 pm IST, extended into Monday until 10:55 pm due to persistent rain interruptions. In less than 16 hours, they now face Sri Lanka in their next Asia Cup Super 4 match, relying on favourable weather conditions in Colombo and the tireless efforts of the ground staff. This unprecedented sequence of events presents unique challenges, but India has opted to retain KL Rahul and Jasprit Bumrah, both returning from significant injuries, following their pivotal roles in India's record-breaking victory against Pakistan on Monday.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka confronts a crucial test. A triumph against India would significantly enhance their chances of securing a spot in the final. Conversely, a loss would propel India into the final, setting the stage for Sri Lanka to engage in a virtual knockout battle against Pakistan. The outcome hangs in the balance as the cricketing drama unfolds.
Here's everything you need to know about Dunith Wellalage:
Wellalage, whose birth predates India's sharing of the ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka in 2002, gained significant attention due to his impressive bowling performances during his 13th appearance in One Day Internationals (ODIs) for the 1996 world champions. This talented left-handed batsman and slow left-arm orthodox bowler completed his education at St. Joseph’s College in Colombo. Born on January 9, 2003, in Colombo, this left-arm orthodox bowler made his international debut against Australia at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in 2022. Wellalage has participated in just one Test match for Sri Lanka, facing Pakistan, in his highly promising career. He has managed to claim 16 wickets for Sri Lanka in international cricket.
During the previous U-19 World Cup, Wellalage took on the role of captain for the Sri Lanka U-19 team. He began his campaign with remarkable five-wicket hauls against both Scotland and Australia. The young Sri Lankan emerged as one of the standout performers in the U-19 World Cup by capturing a total of 17 wickets for his team in the ICC event. Besides his bowling prowess, he also exhibited his batting skills by accumulating 264 runs, making him the top scorer for Sri Lanka in the tournament. Furthermore, Wellalage achieved a notable milestone by scoring a half-century against Australia at the U-19 World Cup. However, his reputation skyrocketed when this promising talent played a memorable innings of 113 runs and recorded figures of 1/29 against South Africa in the U-19 World Cup.
It's worth noting that Wellalage was among the three players selected as stand-by players for the World Cup qualifiers, indicating his potential to contribute significantly to the Sri Lankan side.