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Akila Dananjaya

Dananjaya – the offspinner picking wickets with leg-breaks and googlies

SL v Ind- Akila Dananjaya speaks

Spinner rues loss in second ODI despite his best efforts, Sri Lanka’s coach lauds Dhoni

Akila Dananjaya looked worn out during the post-match press conference on Thursday (August 24) night after Sri Lanka lost a nail-biter to India in Pallekele. 

The youngster ran riot with a string of googlies to fox the Indian side. If it was not for a masterful run chase from MS Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sri Lanka would have levelled the series. But for a few moments, Dananjaya gave Sri Lankan fans something to cheer about by picking up six carefully constructed scalps. 

“I realised that my off-spin was not helping much,” said the youngster. “That’s when I decided get back to my variations. The target we had to defend wasn’t too much either. So we had to take wickets. I bowled a lot of variations and it went really well.”

When asked about what sort of a bowler he was, Dananjaya’s response was: “I am an offspinner. My wicket-taking balls are leg-spin and the googly.”

And that is why the Indian team was perplexed. They had no clue what the Panadura-native was upto. Four out of the six who got out were undone by wrong-uns. Rohit Sharma fell to the leg-break and Axar Patel fell to an off-break that turned only marginally.  

Dananjaya bowled eight overs on the trot, but given his form one would have expected him to finish his quota of overs. Surprisingly, Upul Tharanga, the Sri Lankan skipper, held him back. 

“They were set and I thought better to get back later on if someone breaks the partnership,” offered Dananjaya. “We wanted to win the game. Once wickets came along we also gained confidence. They batted really well. Bhuvi and Dhoni were superb.”

By the time Dananjaya returned to the attack, it was too late as Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar had put India on track to cross the finish line.

“We would have been happy had we won the game. It’s very sad that we didn’t,” rued Dananjaya. 

This from a man who got married to his childhood friend on Wednesday afternoon and drove by road to Kandy to join the team the same night. As witnesses at the wedding were Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis.  

“I like Herath from those days. I like Ajantha too. Rangana is our number one. I liked them so much and invited the two of them to sign for my wedding,” he said. 

While Dananjaya was still in a haze, Nic Pothas, the team’s interim coach, lauded Dhoni for his performance. 

“Obviously a disappointing night,” said Pothas. “Credit should go to India and it shows how much depth they have got in that squad. Bhuvi played brilliantly and Dhoni did what he does best. One of the calmest characters under pressure. We are obviously disappointed. On the positive side, this young buck bowled really well (pointing to Dananjaya) and were happy for him. Not the worst honeymoon present to have.”

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