Known for his bludgeoning style of batting as a schoolboy at Royal College, Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s first class career to making it to the international big stage stop started. The expectant arrival of the blazing heroics that the dashing left hander rode the arena as a schoolboy was not to be. At one time he was not heard of and when he did turn up on the domestic club scene there wasn’t the type of consistency that made him a schoolboy sensation with the bat. In fact his arrival came after a hiatus when it looked like he wasn’t really coming on the big stage.
But come he did in what has been a meteoric foray. If coming to top gear was arduous that Bhanuka Rajapaksa had to brave the odds of winning the faith of the national selectors through a testing treadmill like process of coming through a trying fitness test put his career on the line. Failure to meet that ultimate looked like he would not make it at all when overlooked for selection for sometime.
But when it looked like his international career was on the line a call up for duty in the Indian Premier League for the Punjab Kings was to open up the doors for Rajapaksa following some impressive batting performances. It was indeed the turning point for the 30-year old with Rajapaksa winning a recall following some early appearances. And what a turnaround it proved to be both for self and country the other day when Rajapaksa turned out to be the Player of the Match winner for Sri Lanka in the decisive Asia Cup final with a defiant unbeaten 77 against Pakistan at Dubai. That he arrived akin to a eleventh hour deliverance when everything looked bleak for Sri Lanka with the frontline batting having crashed to reading 58 for 5 was the high point of his innings. It was an innings of achieving the ultimate in coming to full bloom as he met the defining challenge of the Pakistani bowling attack.
He had won the day for Sri Lanka in the USD 200,000 plus trophy glitter top flight showdowns that brought back the shine after an 8-year hiatus since Sri Lanka Lanka last won it in 2014.