Pathirana: Sri Lanka’s death ‘sensation’ for T20 World Cup

May 29, 2024
Matheesha Pathirana celebrates a wicket for Sri Lanka.— AFP/file

COLOMBO: Young fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana has rattled the world´s top batsmen with his toe-crushing yorkers in the Indian Premier League and looks set to boost Sri Lanka´s chances in the T20 World Cup.


The 21-year-old, dubbed “Baby Malinga” for an unorthodox slinging style of delivery, reminiscent of compatriot Lasith Malinga, has only played 12 ODIs and six T20 matches for Sri Lanka but has already established himself as a death-over specialist.

Pathirana took 13 wickets in just six matches for Chennai Super Kings this IPL season before returning home early due to a hamstring injury that left his Sri Lanka teammates ruing his possible absence.

But all seems well as the bowler has departed with the Sri Lankan squad, led by Wanindu Hasaranga, for the showpiece 20-over tournament starting June 1 in the West Indies and United States.

“Sri Lanka are banking on Matheesha Pathirana to turn around their fortunes in the upcoming T20 World Cup,” cricket writer Rex Clementine wrote in The Island newspaper. “Pathirana was a sensation in the IPL for Chennai Super Kings. He has showcased (a) glimpse of his skill sending down unplayable death overs,” Clementine added. “If he is able to get his line right without being wayward, he will have a major impact in this competition.”

Malinga is equally excited about the prospect of seeing the young tyro using “his pace and his yorker”. “But the biggest thing I see with Matheesha is his big heart,” Malinga told Cricinfo. “He´s very positive in the match. Those aren´t things we can teach him. Those are things he´s got naturally. Even in the year he first came into the IPL, he didn´t have any fear, or any doubts. “If you tell him this is what we need at this time, he has the ability to do that. “He´s got the ability to make a decision. He´s quite clear in his thinking.”

Sri Lanka´s chief selector Upul Tharanga has also backed the youngster to choke opposition batsmen in the final few overs along with 29-year-old pacer Nuwan Thushara. The prospect of seeing those two in tandem sets Malinga purring.

“In the T20 format you are always talking about the yorker because that´s the ball that stops sixes from happening,” he said. “To have two bowlers who can bowl yorkers like the two of them can in the same tournament... That´s crazy, that´s absolutely mad.