Sri Lanka’s Cricket officials in a desperate bid to address the team’s fielding woes had called up 18-year-old schoolboy Ashen Bandara to do fielding duties in the Galle Test after Asela Gunaratne was ruled out with injury.
Sri Lanka’s fielding has been in a sorry state in recent times and in 2017 they have dropped as many as 56 catches across all three formats of the game. In the Galle Test alone two dropped catches of Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya cost the team more than 200 runs.
Bandara, a student at St. Aloysius’ College in Galle, was called up to the squad to do fielding duties and he looked electric.
During India’ second innings, when captain Virat Kohli flicked a Dilruwan Perera delivery to mid-wicket, young Ashen sprinted from wide mid-on and dived in the mid-wicket region to save a boundary prompting questions from fans about his identity?
“I had heard so much about this young kid Ashen Bandara from our Under-19 coaches. When Asela Gunaratne got injured, Chaminda Vaas, our Fast Bowling Coach came up to me and said that there was this guy in the under-19 team who is actually like Jonty Rhodes. Those were his exact words and I was very impressed. I trusted Vaasy and we brought him in and he was fabulous,” reminded Gurusinha.
“Vaasy knew him as he had been with the Under-19 team as the Fast Bowling Coach. Ashen Bandara is a very humble guy too. Very down to earth and I am pretty sure that he will benefit by the exposure. He would have learned a lot sitting next to someone like Rangana Herath or Angelo Mathews,” Gurusinha added.
When asked whether Sri Lanka will carry Bandara around as the permanent 12th man like what they did with Upul Chandana 20 years ago, Gurusinha disagreed.
“I don’t want to do that. We will be destroying the kid if we do that. He is a very good leg-spin bowler as well and a decent batsman too. He is currently playing Under-19 cricket and that’s what he should concentrate. Let him come through the process and I am sure he will provide us lot of excitement as we move on,” Gurusinha added.
Bandara has already signed up with Galle CC.