Every IPL Team Will Want Dunith Wellalage

In the Super 4 stage of the 2023 Asia Cup, Sri Lanka’s Dunith Wellalage delivered a masterful performance, causing significant trouble for the formidable Indian batting line-up.

Just a day after a resounding victory over Pakistan, Team India began their match against defending champions Sri Lanka with great promise.

Rohit Sharma, who passed the 10,000 ODI runs mark in the game, seemed poised for a spectacular innings against Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa stadium. Assisted by Shubman Gill, Rohit led India to a strong start, reaching 80-0 within the first 11 overs.

Just when it appeared that India was on track to post another imposing total in Asia Cup 2023, left-arm spinner Dunith Wellalage dismissed Gill for 19 with a brilliant delivery.

Virat Kohli became Wellalage’s second victim in the 14th over as Dasun Shanaka took a straightforward catch at mid-wicket to remove Monday’s centurion for just 3 runs off 12 balls.

After the drinks break, the 20-year-old spinner outwitted Rohit, initiating a turnaround for the reigning Asia Cup champions. Going from 80-0 to 93-3 in 16 overs, India found themselves in a challenging position after Wellalage bowled a maiden over and secured three wickets, conceding a mere 4 runs in 3 overs.

Just when K L Rahul and Ishan Kishan seemed to be settling in, Wellalage struck once again, sending Rahul back after he had scored 39 runs. But Wellalage wasn’t done yet. He added Hardik Pandya (5) to his kitty for his maiden five wicket haul in ODI cricket.

At 20 years and 246 days, Wellalage is the youngest bowler to accomplish this feat in ODI history. He surpassed fellow Sri Lankan right-arm pacer Charitha Buddhika, who achieved a five-wicket haul at 21 years and 65 days against Zimbabwe in Sharjah in 2001.

He made his international debut against Australia at Pallekele in 2022 and has only played a single Test for Sri Lanka, facing Pakistan. In his promising career, he has taken 13 wickets for Sri Lanka in ODIs.

Wellalage was the highest wicket-taker at the Under-19 World Cup in 2022 (17 wickets), a tournament India won. After Tuesday’s performance, IPL franchises will be eager to sign the Sri Lankan all-rounder at the next auction.

If he plays IPL 2024, Wellalage will be the fourth player from the U-19 World Cup 2022 to play the IPL. South Africa’s Dewald Brevis plays for the Mumbai Indians, Raj Bawa plays for the Punjab Kings and Yash Dhull plays for the Delhi Capitals.

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