Wanindu is Our Trump Card – Maheesh
BY ANJANA KALUARACHCHI REPORTING FROM ABU DHABI
Sri Lanka’s move to send Wanindu Hasaranga once again to bat at number 5 finally paid dividends on the biggest stage, which enabled them to not only score a massive win against Ireland, but also seal their berth in the Super 12s of the ICC T20 World Cup here in UAE. Young finger spinner Maheesh Theekshana, who once again took three wickets, said Wanindu is their trump card.
“We have made our plans. Wanindu was our trump card as he can bat anywhere in the batting order, and he proved this by doing the job,” said Theekshana. Wanindu, who used to bat down the order, was tried at the number 5 position a couple of times before when the chips were down without success.
But on Wednesday he produced a counter attack when Sri Lanka were three down for 8 and made a career best 71, which enabled Sri Lanka post a match winning 171. It was also the first time in men’s T20Is that a team which lost three wickets for less than ten runs went on to score over 150.
Theekshana, 21, who made inroads along with the pacemen and bamboozled the opposition, said they are relieved after confirming their berth in the main draw. “We were under tremendous pressure coming into the tournament since we had to play in the qualifiers, even though we are a good side.
The important thing is players started believing in their abilities and they backed themselves to perform. You can see when we were down 3 for 8, how beautifully Wanindu came and batted to change the complexion of the match. We are focusing on winning the next game and moving on.
We have a game plan for each game,” said Theekshana . Meanwhile, Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie said that the move of Wanindu caught them off guard. “Yeah, he obviously took us a bit by surprise by coming in, and look, I thought he played really well. We obviously set fields that we’ve backed over a couple of years, and he kind of countered that and maybe caught us in the hop a bit, but that’s what happens when you play against world-class cricketers.
They can do that to you. “We maybe just weren’t on the money from that sort of third over in the powerplay. But that happens, and yeah, I think we’re still doing the right things and going through the right processes. One more big performance on Friday, and hopefully we can have a good end to the week,” said Balbirnie.
SL take on Netherlands
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan team will move to Sharjah today to take on Netherlands in the third and final match of round one of the T20 World Cup. A win here will ensure their place as group leaders. Sri Lanka will go in with one change. They are set to replace misfiring Dinesh Chandimal with Charith Asalanka in the number three position. SL Team: 1. Kusal Perera, 2. Pathum Nissanka, 3. Charith Asalanka, 4. Avishka Fernando, 5. Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 6. Dasun Shanaka (C), 7. Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva, 8. Chamika Karunarathne, 9. Maheesh Theekshana, 10. Dushmantha Chameera,11. Lahiru Kumara