Sri Lanka’s captain Dunith Wellalage led by example at the ICC Men’s U19 World Cup with a series of impressive performances with both bat and ball.
As the main man in his side’s bowling attack, Wellalage started the tournament in spectacular fashion with consecutive five-wicket hauls against Scotland and Australia. And he followed those up with a number of impressive performances with the ball, taking three wickets against both West Indies and Afghanistan before a tidy 1/29 against South Africa.
His tally of 17 wickets in six matches makes him one of the top performers with the ball at the World Cup, and he took those wickets at an average of just 13.58. That average is even more impressive when you take into account Wellalage’s tendency to hold himself back in the attack to bowl at tricky times and against opponents’ most dangerous batters.
The 19-year-old allrounder also finished the tournament as his side’s top run-maker, scoring 264 runs across six innings at an average of 44.0. But, as with his bowling, the quality of his batting was more than just raw numbers, with many of his scores coming in tricky circumstances.
His half-century against Australia came after the Sri Lankan top four had all fallen cheaply in the run chase, with Wellalage top-scoring as his side reached the target in impressive fashion.
His 113 against South Africa came after the loss of three wickets in the Powerplay that had threatened to derail the innings, while his 34 from number eight in the quarter-final against Afghanistan was his team’s top score and very nearly saw them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
WELLALAGE'S TOURNAMENT IN NUMBERS
- 10 and 5/27 vs Scotland
- 52 and 5/28 vs Australia
- 15 and 3/39 vs West Indies
- 34 and 3/36 vs Afghanistan
- 113 and 1/29 vs South Africa
- 40 and 0/72 vs Pakistan
WHAT THEY SAID
Carlos Brathwaite: “You can see why he has been the leading wicket-taker in the tournament.”
Alan Wilkins: “He inspires as a captain, and he’s an unassuming captain in the sense that he does things quietly, I like that. So that’s one string to his bow, he leads by example.
“He took five wickets against Australia, and he took them with classical slow left-arm spin bowling, then backed it up by getting a half-century (in the same game).
“The way he crafts an innings, I think he’s got style written all over him, I think he's destined for the top. And I think he’s destined to be a leader for Sri Lanka.”
Russel Arnold: “He brings himself on at difficult times, towards the death as well. That means he’s got a bit of courage, he’s got a bit of arrogance which you need. That’s the confidence that allows you to perform and better your game.
“Tactically he’s smart, the way that he rotates his field around, he’s always trying to buy wickets and play that aggressive type of cricket. These are things that really will make you a champion and be an asset to your team.”
DUNITH WELLALAGE IN HIS OWN WORDS
“I want to play always my normal game and I like to bat positively, so I’m very happy with my performance.
“Our team we are good friends, and that’s why in the field we like to motivate each other and our bowlers. They’ve done really well.”
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