Before 2015 World Cup when the speculations started floating that both Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara were about to retire after the tournament, Captain Angelo Matthews tried his best that both the pillars of Sri Lankan Cricket don’t exit together as he knew it would be hard to fill those big shoes.
Agreeing to his request, Kumar Sangakkara retired 5 months after Mahela Jayawardene. It is since then Sri Lankan cricket has faced its toughest period. Some of the defeats they suffered were even worse than their initial years after they got the test status in 1981-82. This was the reason when Kushal Mendis, Dhananjay De Silva and Roshen Silva shone on the same day at Chittagong Test; it was presumed that at last Sri Lanka’s long worry of finding some trusting heads to take their cricket to next generation have come to an end.
The pitch was as flat as it can be with almost 1000 runs scored in just 3 days but then Sri Lanka failed to utilise even the batting paradise, and their miseries never looked like coming to an end. While Kushal Mendis’ first class record has been modest with an average of only 34 and a test average of only 33 after 21 tests but he is ranked so higher in cricket circles, and despite recent failures, he was not dropped like Dhananjay De Silva or Kaushal Silva. Even batting coach Thilan Samaraweera rate him very high as he said after Mendis made career-best 196 against Bangladesh “ We Want to give Mendis every opportunity”. This speaks high regard in which Mendis is taken by everyone now it’s up to him to justify everyone’s trust that has been shown to him.
Dhananjaya De Silva rose to stardom after being one of the key contributors to Australia’s whitewash in 2016 at home. He, however, had to weather the storm of a failed South African tour last year. He also hadn’t been lucky enough like Kushal Mendis as he has frequently been dropped.
However, in the last Indian tour two months ago, when Lahiru Thrimanne once again failed to justify the chance given to him, Dhananjaya was brought in as an opener in the third test at Delhi. Fully utilising the opportunity given to him, he went on to score one of the finest centuries by any visiting batsmen in recent years against the likes of Ashwin and Jadeja.
Dhananjaya He used his feet against the spinners and wasn’t fearful of playing the ball over the field. His 119* becomes even more commendable as it was made in the fourth inning of the test when Sri Lanka looked almost certain to lose. After that, his fearless century against Bangladesh have undoubtedly shown the selectors the way forward.
Roshen Silva, on the other hand, might be called as one of the most unluckiest Cricketer in Sri Lankan cricket along with Malinda Pushpakumara. Both of them have been grinding day and day out in Sri Lankan Domestic Cricket from last one decade but have not got the opportunity till 6 months back. While Pushpakumara was dropped after failing in 2 tests at home, Silva got the chance only a few days after he turned 29 against India in Delhi test. Along with De Silva, he was pivotal in saving the test match with a pretenseful 74 runs of 154 balls for which he batted almost for 3 hours. This was the reason when he got his first century in Chittagong test; there was a sigh of relief on his face, all his years of hard work had borne the fruit.
The success of these three batsmen will also sigh relief to the selectors, team management, captain, coach but above all the fans who have been feeling very low of late after they have been at the wrong end of the result from quite sometime. The 9-0 loss from the hand of India was quite painful more so because it came on home soil, where they have been habitual to see there side winning. The success of these three young men have filled them with optimism once again and hopefully this time the good times are here to stay.