Sri Lanka breaking a 12-year hoodoo of losses to India in ODI cricket by winning the final contest last Friday had much to do in a cast of relative newcomers in Praveen Jayawickrama and Bhanuka Rajapaksa coming to the party delivering with the ball and bat respectively is indeed a shot in the arm for the accentuation on new blood. Significantly, the 22-year old slow left arm orthodox bowler Jayawickrama who broke into international cricket in the sensational style of a record breaking 11-wicket Test debut it was who decimated the India when they were on song to an imposing total with three vital breakthroughs while the 29-year old Rajapaksa reeled out a defining 56-ball 65 to put Sri Lanka on the road to victory. He was onto the job in only his third ODI appearance having failed to make the side for the tours of Bangladesh and England after failing the 1 meter jogging fitness test. In the case of Jayawickrama he was into the wicket taking act in only his second ODI appearance having been in the waiting wings for some time despite his record-breaking foray to big-time cricket. It was also significant that top scorer opening batsman Avishka Fernando whose 76 was the solid cornerstone to that victory doing the job upfront emerged from the country’s youth team in the wake of his half century in the second ODI, a contest that Sri Lanka let slip out of its grasp from a strong winning position. The other cog in the wheel to Sri Lanka’s win was spinner Akila Dananjaya who put the icing on the cake to the Indian innings with a 3-wicket haul while Ramesh Mendis who made certain Sri Lanka won with an unbeaten 15 following a batting collapse is another youth find. Notably, he lost his place on the tour of England and his positive comeback was another plus mark to Sri Lanka’s rebuilding curve to optimising from the low road to the high road to reclaiming its lost prestige having scaled the summit of instant cricket as world cup champions in 1996. All in all, the new cast, despite an string of losses has indeed signaled a pick up auguring for the future. Also raising his hands was young left-hand batsman Charith Asalanka who remarkably passed the test as a durable new find in a progressive pick up from his blooding in England in getting into the big run making act by his 68-run top score in the second ODI against India following India’s eighth-wicket great escape staged by Deepak Chahar and Buvaneshwar Kumar. Another recent find is young fast bowling all-rounder Chamika Karunaratne. He not only displayed the flair of generating seed with the ball, but also proved to be quite a handy lower order batsman manning the No.8 slot with 40-plus scores, one against England and two against India. The left handed hard hitting wicket-keeper batsman Minod Bhanuka too stamped his name as a player for the future by his 36 in the second ODI in a series run up despite the 2-1 loss has seen a gradual cohesive build-up of the young stocks in also coming out of the shackles of Sri Lanka registering its second win for the year.
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