Rajapakse: Embodies Faith and Belief | Sunday Observer

Rajapakse: Embodies Faith and Belief

Bhanuka Rajapaksa smashes a six watched by Pakistan wicket-keeper Sarfaraz Ahamed in the recent T20 series
Bhanuka Rajapaksa smashes a six watched by Pakistan wicket-keeper Sarfaraz Ahamed in the recent T20 series

Sri Lanka’s batting discovery Bhanuka Rajapakse relies on timing of his strokes rather than slogging around the park while using a heavy bat which is his strength that helped him perform very well in the concluded T/20 series against Pakistan this month.

It was in this series that most Sri Lankans and even the team Selectors realised there was something special about Rajapakse and why was he left out in the cold for so long until he reached the age of 27.

But Rajapakse is man of deep Faith and Belief with nothing to discourage him and his perseverance to reach the top.

“I was devoted and had strong faith in my religion and God always blessed me to get into the national team for which I waited for almost ten years. My success has been attacking the seamers (fast bowlers) early and then consolidate when spin is introduced,” said Rajapakse.

Chief team selector Ashantha de Mel and coach Rumesh Ratnayake also advised Rajapakse to play his natural game which he did and the results were there to be seen. With his performances he has been named in the Sri Lanka squad for the forthcoming T-20 series against Australia.

“I was a bit nervous in my debut match and after I settled down I played in my normal style. I never applied any especial method to improve my batting and always used my natural instincts to score runs,” said Rajapakse who won the man of the match award for his knock of 77 in 48 balls in the second T-20 game.

Rajapakse, a product of Royal College, was a member of the Sri Lanka Under-19 team and then found a slot in the Sri Lanka A team and scored over a 1000 runs in unofficial Tests and limited overs formats.

He is ever grateful to his family members who gave him immense support to build his carrier from the beginning having started playing cricket in school when he was 13 years old. He started as wicket keeper batsman and then gradually left the gloves to become a batting all-rounder who bowls seamers. His first ever coach at school was WAN Silva and later USC Perera who took over for a couple of years.

“I scored my first century, 193 in 101 balls, in that first year. I was chosen to be a member of the First X1 squad which was a proud moment for everyone in my family. Nalliah Devarajan also coached me and brought the best out of me at that time,” recalled Rajapakse. He also has special thoughts for Chulaka Amarasinghe who he says was his favourite coach during his schooling days when he scored a century on debut and never looked back from that moment.

“I scored 956 runs in the season averaging close to 40. Soon after that I was called into the national under-19 squad and scored a century in the first trail game. We went to Bangladesh with Dinesh Chandimal as captain and my college mate Kusal Janith Perera,” said Rajapakse.He scored a century in the first game in Bangladesh and then came the big break to represent Sri Lanka in the U-19 World Cup. England A then toured Sri Lanka for a full series and Rajapakse representing Sri Lanka A scored three successive centuries, two in the four-day games, 149 and 129, followed by a knock of 131 in the one-day series.Sri Lanka A won the series and Rajapakse ended as Player of the Series.

It must have been a blessing in disguise that several senior Sri Lanka players declined to tour Pakistan fearing a terrorist attack. It made Rajapakse enter the Sri Lanka senior team and live up to his beliefs as he took up the challenge with nothing to fear.

He did not put a foot wrong and showed what Faith can do.