Bombing-hit Dasun Shanaka in brave Sri Lanka leadership | Sunday Observer

Bombing-hit Dasun Shanaka in brave Sri Lanka leadership

Dasun Shanaka: Puts his hand up to captain Sri Lanka in Pakistan
Dasun Shanaka: Puts his hand up to captain Sri Lanka in Pakistan

All-rounder Dasun Shanaka may have escaped a deadly bombing at his church on Easter Sunday, but the pinch hitter who was mentally scarred will lead a new look Sri Lanka T20 cricket team on a tour of Pakistan later this month after several so-called “senior super stars” backed out over fears of insecurity.

Shanaka, a parishioner at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, skipped the Easter morning service on April 21 after returning home late the night before, but desperately rushed to the scene of the carnage in search of his mother and grandmother when a jihadist bomber killed nearly a hundred innocents.

Seeing the tragedy unfurl before his eyes, a devastated Shanaka scoured all over and realized his mother was safe while his grandmother underwent surgery for shrapnel wounds to her head.

But while Shanaka mastered his fears as a professional and moved on, nine of his team-mates decided against touring another violence-scarred nation Pakistan ten years after the Sri Lanka tour squad escaped a terrorist attack on their team bus in Lahore in March 2009.

None of the nine players were on that ill-fated bus or had seen anything on a scale witnessed by Shanaka, but have opted against showcasing themselves despite assurances of high powered security fit for heads-of-state from the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Some analysts see the pull-out of the nine players as a revolt against their employer Sri Lanka Cricket whose secretary Mohan de Silva and security consultant former Air Force commander Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonetilleke made a satisfying inspection tour of Pakistan and the match venues of Karachi and Lahore.

“We are going ahead with plans for the tour and the team is practicing and training,” said Sri Lanka Cricket chief executive Ashley de Silva.

He said they were only awaiting Defence Ministry clearance for the players to take wing.

One of the players who refused to be available for the tour which starts on October 27 was Dinesh Chandimal who had the sympathy of almost every Sri Lankan when he was dropped for the 2019 World Cup.

He is likely to lose some of that support as the new look team will be closely watched by Sri Lankan followers who have had very little to brag about over the past 12 months.

Shanaka was appointed captain of the T20 team on his 28th birthday after he broke into the scene following a domestic club match for his Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) when he clobbered a Sri Lanka record of 16 sixes in a score of 123 in only 46 balls at a Premier match in 2016.

The feat made him come close to West Indies batsman Chris Gayle who at the time held the record for the most number of sixes (17) in a T20 match for Royal Challengers Bangalore at an Indian Premier League (IPL) contest in 2013.

Sri Lanka T20 and ODI squad for Pakistan tour: Dasun Shanaka (T20 captain), Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Shehan Jayasuriya, Angelo Perera, Bhanuka Rajapakse, Minod Bhanuka, Lahiru Madushanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Lahiru Thirimanne (ODI captain)