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Dunith Wellalage’s Remarkable Rise in Cricket
Dunith Wellalage was not even born when India shared the ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka in 2002.
The commentary box resounded with praise as former England cricketer Dominic Cork celebrated Sri Lanka’s triumph over India, applauding Dunith Wellalage’s outstanding performance against the formidable Indian batting lineup during the memorable Super 4 stage of the Asia Cup 2023 on a Tuesday to remember. Just a day after defeating arch-rivals Pakistan in a rain-interrupted Asia Cup match, Rohit Sharma’s Team India got off to a promising start against defending champions Sri Lanka in the 10th match of the continental tournament.
Wellalage’s Impact on the India vs. Sri Lanka Match
Veteran India skipper Rohit Sharma reached a milestone of 10,000 runs and seemed poised to deliver a remarkable performance against Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa Stadium. Assisted by the in-form Shubman Gill, senior opener Rohit led Virat Kohli’s Team India to a score of 80-0 within the first 11 overs of their innings. At a time when Rohit’s squad was aiming to post another substantial total in the Asia Cup 2023, Sri Lanka’s emerging star, Wellalage, made his mark by dismissing Gill with an impressive delivery.
Introduced into the bowling attack during the 11th over, Wellalage bowled Gill for 19 on the very first ball of his game-changing spell. Kohli, who had delivered a record-breaking performance against Pakistan, became Wellalage’s second victim in the 14th over. Sri Lanka’s skipper, Dasun Shanaka, made a straightforward catch at mid-wicket as Wellalage dismissed Kohli for 3 off 12 balls.
After the drinks break, the 20-year-old Wellalage secured a crucial wicket in the Super 4 match between India and Sri Lanka. Wellalage outsmarted Rohit in the 16th over, initiating a turning point for the reigning Asia Cup champions. Going from 80-0 to 93-3 in 16 overs, India found themselves on the defensive after Wellalage bowled a maiden over and claimed three wickets while conceding just 4 runs in three overs. Wellalage was reintroduced into the attack by skipper Dasun Shanaka and went on to dismiss KL Rahul for 39 in the 30th over.
The Journey to International Debut
Wellalage, who wasn’t even born when India shared the ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka in 2002, gained widespread attention for his bowling prowess in his 13th One Day International (ODI) appearance for the 1996 world champions. The left-handed batsman and slow left-arm orthodox bowler completed his education at St. Joseph’s College in Colombo.Emerging like a comet from Colombo’s cricketing skies on January 9, 2003, this left-arm orthodox bowler illuminated the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium with his international debut against Australia in 2022. . Wellalage has only played a single Test for Sri Lanka (against Pakistan) in his promising career, during which he has taken 16 wickets in international cricket.
Wellalage’s Success in the U-19 World Cup
Wellalage served as the captain of the Sri Lanka U-19 team in the previous U-19 World Cup. He kicked off his campaign with five-wicket hauls against Scotland and Australia. The Sri Lankan youngster emerged as one of the top performers at the U-19 World Cup, capturing 17 wickets for Sri Lanka in the ICC event. Additionally, the all-rounder contributed significantly with the bat, amassing 264 runs to finish as Sri Lanka’s highest scorer in the tournament.
Wellalage even registered a half-century against Australia in the U-19 World Cup. However, his stock rose considerably when the promising young talent played a memorable knock of 113 runs and returned figures of 1/29 against South Africa in the U-19 World Cup. Wellalage was among the three players who were included in the Sri Lankan side as stand-by players for the World Cup qualifiers.
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