Udana picks himself for World Cup | Sunday Observer

Udana picks himself for World Cup

31 March, 2019

If there is one Sri Lanka player who has picked himself for the upcoming World Cup in England, it is none other than the 31-year old Isuru Udana Tillekaratne who hails from a village in Balangoda.

Udana’s performances with the bat and ball during the recently concluded five-match ODI series and T20 series in South Africa spoke volumes of the prowess of him while the rest failed to make any contributions.

Could it now be that Sri Lanka has found a capable all-rounder in Udana to fit into the number seven or eight slot in the batting line-up which the team did not have before the tour of South Africa.

Udana learnt the basics of cricket at his village school Ananda Maittriya Vidyalaya and then crossed over to DS Senanayake College in Colombo where he enhanced his performances showing some good skills.

The hard hitting right hand batsman and a very useful left arm medium paceman first broke into the scene at the T20 World Cup in England in 2009. His first wicket was that of former Australian skipper Micheal Clarke and he finished with figures 2 for 47 in his debut game.

The selectors saw him most of the time as a T20 player but Udana had everything in his favour to extend his career to the ODI 50-over format that decides the World Cup winner.

Strangely before the South African tour, Udana was given the opportunity in just two ODI matches against India and that was seven years ago.

But his fortunes changed when he was brought in as a replacement bowler for the third ODI against South Africa in Durban where he finished with two wickets for 50 runs and did not bat.

But then was to come his big break in the fourth ODI at Port Elizabeth when he smashed 78 runs in 57 balls which included four towering sixes with a strike rate of over 135 while producing 58 runs for the last wicket with Kasun Rajitha that was a new record partnership for the tenth wicket.

Udana’s best performance came when he cracked an unbeaten 84 in just 48 balls in the T20 series against the same opposition which eventually was the highest score made by a number eight batsman in T20 cricket.

But no one in the Sri Lanka team can be as disappointed as Udana is when taking the results of the matches, eight of them in a row that went in favour of South Africa.

“True enough I had some good performances but my biggest worry was that we could not win a single game,” said Udana. “I thought we lost many wickets in the first Power-Play (field restriction) overs and that was the main reason for us to fail in these matches. I think we made all basic mistakes while batting.”

Udana also knows that time is running out for Sri Lanka to regroup and start winning matches while producing positive results.

“As a batsman the only way you can put your opponents under pressure is to hit those big shots and that has always been my target,” said Udana.

Udana was still a schoolboy at DS Senanayake College when he joined the nearby club NCC and even before he could play in a match for the Maitland Place club he was selected to play for the Sri Lanka Under-20 team at the Under-23 domestic tournament.

He was then selected for the Sri Lanka A team’s tour of South Africa in 2008 without even playing a single First Class match.

He also became the first bowler to take a hat-trick in the Champions T20 league tournament.