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Friday, August 25, 2017

Who is Akila Dhananjaya ? Dhoni and Buvi see India through at Pallekele

The owners, fans and others of Chennai Super Kings are still angry with BCCI and are trying to pose problems – one secret plan was hatched yesterday !! .. .. .. Sri Lankans have fetish for long names – and Akila Dhananjaya has one – he is : Mahamarakkala Kurukulasooriya Patabendige Akila Dananjaya Perera !  .. .. ..  when Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar was often on a song and scored a century, a distraught critic would remark, when Sachin scores a ton, India loses.  Far away from the truth it was for this what the statistics reveal.  In a great career from 1989 – 2012, he scored 18426 ODI runs with 49 centuries, with the first one coming only in 1994.  Of these 33 came in matches that India won ! – and in a Team game, could one individual be blamed if he turnsout a heroic performance – wins the match but ends up on losing side for no fault of his .. ask Akila the man of the match, the same Q today and one will understand the pain !!

It was getting closer to midnight and it was difficult to sustain interest and watch the match – even when India (and MS Dhoni)  was playing.  The eyes were drooping pleading rest – and it was not any great tournament – the Indo Lanka series has been no match thus far.  It has been so bad that a  section of Sri Lanka spectators held up the team bus and voiced raucous displeasure at the performance of players and administration following the nine-wicket loss against India in Dambulla in the previous onedayer.

A group of about 50 fans had stood in the vicinity of Sri Lanka's parked bus, hooting and shouting slogans such as "we want our cricket back" and "no politics in cricket", until police stepped in and cleared the gathering. The incident delayed Sri Lanka's departure from the venue by close to half an hour. The fan demonstration followed months of increasing dissatisfaction with on-field results. Social media has been aflame with scathing satire, taking aim at selectors and administrators in addition to players, in a year in which Sri Lanka has slipped to several unprecedented losses.

Coming back in a rain affected match with revised target, India was faltering at 131 for 7 after having a century opening stand – suddenly stumps were getting rattled often as one Akila turned hero having claimed Indian wickets.  Bhuvneshwar walked in, joined Dhoni as Akila added Axar Patel to his kitty and had 6. 

He  is Akila Dananjaya. He is supposed to be an offspinner but his nimble fingers can do what they want to the ball. One minute in 2012, he was bowling in the nets, the next he was fast-tracked into the Sri Lanka team by no less a spotter of talent than Mahela Jayawardene, in a World T20 to boot. If that isn't enough drama, on debut, he struck in his first over, and then got hit in the face by a cricket ball. When Akila Dananjaya's name appeared in Sri Lanka's provisional squad for the ICC World Twenty20, the rumour mill in Lanka spun out stories where the media could not. Some accused his family of using political clout to achieve his sudden elevation. It would not have been the first time, after all. Others alleged money had passed hands - a favour in exchange for funds for an ailing board. Others still supposed it was a mistake, or an oversight. Why would an 18-year-old unknown, who has never played for Sri Lanka at Under-19 level, let alone any first-class or List A cricket, be picked for the national side? Dananjaya is the son of a carpenter from Panadura, just south of Colombo.  He had just played 3 one dayers and had 5 wickets in them – Pallekele, 24th Aug 2o17 was different – he was the Man of the Match.

Dananjaya had tied the knot less than 24 hours before the game at his hometown in Moartuwa (some 150 kilometers from Kandy) to childhood sweetheart Nethalie Tekshini. But instead of going on the honeymoon; he was back in the team hotel in Kandy that night ahead of the second ODI.   In one over he had  Kedar Jadhav, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul  foxed by the wrong-un  and completed his maiden five-wicket haul in the next over when Hardik Pandya came down the track, but the googly went through bat pad and settled in Niroshan Dickwella's gloves, allowing for a simple stumping. Dhananjaya wasn't finished yet, as he trapped Axar Patel leg before wicket with a ball that went straight on to reduce India to 131 for 7. Captain Upul Tharanga held back two of his overs, and was that a mistake ??

The cool veteran MSD was unfazed and this time he did not have to – as Bhuvneshwar Kumar played a dream knock, calm composed, laced with couple of clean hits, making his maiden 50 and bringing about a victory for India by three wickets, he would never forget this rain-hit night. From 131 for 7, through sheer force of will and fiendish common sense, he marshalled India towards their target. He had advice for those who would listen, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, in the course of a record-breaking eighth-wicket partnership of 100, certainly did.  Bhuvi becomes the 4th batsman   to score a half century at No. 9 in successful ODI chases. Bhuvneshwar Kumar joined James Faulkner, Thomas Odoyo and Brendon Mccullum in this feat. The pair added   100 - runs  for the eighth-wicket - highest for the eighth-wicket for India in ODIs.

1.       Getting back to that long name : Mahamarakkala Kurukulasooriya Patabendige Akila Dananjaya Perera - long names – are sort of common in Lanka - the Quiz Q was : this bowler has longer initials than his name (WPUJC Vaas) Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas; then, here is some more -  Herath Mudiyanselage Rangana Keerthi Bandara Herath;  Dampalage Shehan Naveendra Fonseka Gunawardene Jayasuriya; Paththamperuma Arachchige Don Lakshan Rangika Sandakan; Balapuwaduge Manukulasuriya Amith Jeevan Mendis [Jeevan Mendis] ; Balapuwaduge Ajantha Winslow Mendis [Ajanta Mendis] 
2.       Akila had been spotted by CSK long back and was picked – but in 2013 there was politics spilling over with the State Govt pronouncing that Lankan players in Chennai matches are unwelcome and hence they could not play at home matches

With Regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Aug 2017.

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