The potential stars of Sri Lanka’s next generation

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Talent is something that the Sri Lankan Cricket team has never lacked. Over the course of the last few years, many players stormed into the limelight but the lack of consistency played spoilsport in their efforts to cement their spots in the team.

Freehit contributor – Adeeb Saleemdeen

Sri Lanka cricket is going through a nightmarish period but they can have some hope in what is to come, with a few young talents being identified.

In the recent past, many young talents have plied their trade across the cricketing world, showcasing promising signs of filling up some big shoes in their respective teams.

The latest addition to the Indian Test squad Prithvi Shaw, the 19-year old prodigy has been one of India’s most exciting prospects in the recent times. The 20-year old Sam Curran of England raced into stardom after the valuable knocks in the Test series against India and the IPL auction capped his rapid rise in international cricket with an INR 7.20 Crores deal. The rising star of Pakistan, the 18-year old Shaheen Shah Afridi gave a great account of himself in the Asia cup 2018. The 17-year old Mujeeb Ur Rahman has been a useful asset for Afghanistan. Nepalese spin whiz Sandeep Lamichchane has been the lonely warrior of Nepal and has featured in high-profile T20 leagues as well.

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Domestic circuits around the world have been the main contributing factor in unearthing prodigious talents, but from Sri Lanka’s point of view, the difference in the quality of domestic and international cricket is so huge. The administrators need to be very focused on the fact that managing talented players through the Schools and Club level will be vital to Sri Lanka’s success in the years to come.

Here we look at a few promising young talents of Sri Lankan cricket.

1. Hasitha Boyagoda 

The former captain of Trinity College, Hasitha Boyagoda has had a magnificent run of success. After being benched for two crucial games in the ICC U19 World Cup, he marked his return with a record breaking 191 against Kenya and played a pivotal part in the team securing the Plate championship. In 2018, The skillful right hander was adjudged the Best School Boy Cricketer of the Year in 2017. He also won the Ryde Gold Medal at Trinity which is the highest honour that the school can bestow on a student. The 20-year old batsman is highly renowned for his academic skills as well.

Boyagoda made his first-class debut for Nondescripts Cricket Club in the 2018-19 Premier League Tournament. As a rookie in domestic circuit, Hasitha has a top score of 101. Boyagoda also had an impressive stint in the ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup final as his 54 helped the islanders see off the challenge of the Indians. He was also named in the Kandy squad for the 2018 Super Provincial One Day Tournament.

As a flamboyant top order batsman, Boyagoda would certainly look to prove his mettle in years to come.

2. Sammu Ashan 

The 20-year-old Shammu Ashan was a standout player of Sri Lanka’s U19 outfit. His contributions were key to the triumphant outing of the Sri Lanka U19s in England. The former Anandian is also known as one of Sri Lanka’s most exciting prospects.

The right hander made his first-class debut in 2016 for Sinhalese Sports Club and smashed one century and 8 fifties at an average over 45 featuring in 17 FC matches. He has accumulated over 450 runs in 23 List A games.

Shammu Ashan was a part of Galle squad in the Super Provincial One day Tournament and was also named as the vice-captain of the emerging squad of Sri Lanka.

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Shammu was roped into the preliminary squad of the Asia Cup but failed to make it to the final 16-member squad. If he lives up to expectations and develops his skills, he could don the Sri Lankan colours very soon.

3. Pathum Nissanka 

As a prominent batsman from Isipathana College, Pathum Nissanka stormed into the limelight after a double ton in a traditional encounter against President’s College, Rajagiriya. The 20-year old batsman was fortunate enough to represent Sri Lanka at the U15 and U19 level. The right hander continued to be in the spotlight as he smashed 172 against South Africa U19s in a youth Test match and he was a part of the memorable tour of England but failed to impress by showcasing an impactful performance.

Nissanka has maintained a promising First-class career as he has accumulated over 1500 runs with 7 fifties and 6 hundreds under his belt. He continued his magnificent form in the 2017-18 Super Four Provincial Tournament featuring in the Kandy squad. Recently, Pathum notched up yet another double century playing for NCC.

The elegant batsman has shown glimpses of potential and if he’s well groomed, Pathum will be a definite sensation in the future.

4. Avishka Fernando 

Avishka Fernando started his cricketing career at St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa and has been a consistent campaigner for the Sri Lanka U19s. The prolific right hander, took over the reins of Sri Lanka U19 side in South Africa and scintillating centuries in the U19 tour of England earned him a call-up to Sri Lanka’s squad for the ODIs against Australia.

The 20-year old bruising batsman became the first player to hit 4 Youth ODI centuries and also holds the record for scoring the most number of runs in Youth ODI history for Sri Lanka. Avishka Fernando has piled up over 500 runs playing 12 FC games and has managed 2 fifties and 1 century in 15 List A games. Avishka Fernando has been an effective right-arm medium fast bowler as well.

With an aggressive style of batting, Avishka Fernando will be an important cog of Sri Lanka’s top order in the future.

5. Jehan Daniel

Jehan Daniel’s all-round prowess has made him a valuable commodity. The former skipper of St. Joseph’s College was a match winner for his alma mater and has been an impressive player in Sri Lanka’s U19 outfit. The 19-year old all-rounder was a part of the World Cup campaign of Sri Lanka U19s in 2016 and represented the emerging squad which clinched the Asia Cup recently. Daniel was included in the preliminary squad for the Asia Cup 2018.

As a newbie to the domestic circuit, the right hander scored a magnificent 156 for Colts CC. Jehan Daniel was a part of the Kandy squad in the 2018 Super Provincial One Day Tournament.

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Over the past few years, the quest for a reliable all-rounder in all three formats has been a worry for Sri Lanka but the youngster Jehan Daniel will be a perfect option as he has shown potential to be a quality player in all three departments.

6. Kalana Perera  

The big match hero of S. Thomas’ College, Kalana Perera has achieved the feat of registering a five-wicket haul twice in the Battle of Blues. The 18-year old all-rounder has been impressive from the junior level as he destroyed the S De S Jayasinghe College batting unit by picking up 10 wickets for 3 runs in an U17 game. He has foxed a number of batsmen with his left arm pace and recently toppled St. Mary’s College Kegalle by dismissing 12 batsmen in a single day.

As Kalana Perera has the capability to play long innings and provide crucial breakthroughs, he will be looking to make a mark in his last school cricket season and knock on the doors of the national selectors.

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