Akila Dananjaya celebrated honeymoon with career best spell

PALLEKELE: Spinner Akila Dananjaya who nearly fashioned out a win for Sri Lanka in the second one-day international against India at the Pallekele International Stadium on Thursday with career best figures of 6 for 54 hardly had time to spend his honeymoon with his newly married wife Nethali Tekshini.

“The wedding was in the afternoon (Wednesday) at Moratuwa. It finished around 4 pm and when I got back to the team hotel it was around 11:30 in the night. I wanted to reach earlier than that but it took a little longer we were a bit late when we came,” said Dananjaya at the post-match press conference.

Dananjaya said that he chose Sri Lanka spinners Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis as attesting witnesses to his wedding because “I liked them so much”.

“I liked Herath from those days and Ajantha too. Rangana is our number one bowler. So I invited them to sign for my wedding.”

Dananjaya who was named man of the match said that he was disappointed his bowling efforts failed to bring a win for his team but gave credit to India for their three-wicket victory.

“We would have been happy had we won the game. But they really played well Bhuvi and Dhoni were superb. They batted really well against our bowlers. There was not much of a change in the wicket,” said Dananjaya,

As Sri Lanka had only a small total to defend – 231 in 47 overs Dananjaya said that he had try out various variations to fox the Indian batsmen.

“I realized that my off-spin was not helping much. So I decided get back to my variations. The target we had to defend wasn’t too much either. So we had to take wickets. I bowled a lot of variations and it went really well,” Dananjaya said.

Asked to describe his variations Dananjaya replied, “I am an off-spinner. My wicket taking balls are leg-spin and the googly.”

Dananjaya was first discovered by former captain Mahela Jayawardene who impressed him as a net bowler at practice and wanted him fast tracked to the national squad so that he made his international debut at the age of 19 against New Zealand in a T20I at Pallekele in 2012. However after a year he disappeared from the international scene until he reappeared against Zimbabwe in June where he recorded his best ODI figures of 4/47 prior to Thursday’s performance.

“Akila was not around due to the fact that Sachithra (Senanayake) was performing well for us,” said Sri Lanka’s spin bowling coach Piyal Wijetunga.

“Sachitra had an issue with his bowling action and he had to remodel it. Once he did that his effectiveness was less. So we tried another off-spinner and Akila was able to bounce back to the side. He does skill training for three days a week and bowls for about 80 minutes a day,” said Wijetunga.

Nic Pothas the coach said that it was frustrating not to win and when luck was not on your side.

“When you are not winning games regularly it is quite hard to get the momentum back again. It’s a classic isn’t it, you are trying to win a game. You are on top of it and then the ball goes though someone’s leg and hits the stumps and the bails don’t come off. That is going to happen. When you are trying to wrestle back the initiative and when things don’t go your way it is very, very frustrating,” said Pothas.

He was referring to the luck MS Dhoni had in the 35th over with India 59 runs away when a Vishwa Fernando produced a false shot from the former Indian captain and the ball trickled between his legs to hit the stumps but the heavy bails didn’t fall.

“These are the kind of games you want to win and you need to win. Had we got that one wicket we would have gained a lot of confidence and got a lot of momentum. But credit should go to India and it shows how much depth they have got in that squad.

Bhuvi played brilliantly and Dhoni did what he does best, one of the calmest characters under pressure. We are obviously disappointed. On the positive side, this young guy (Dananjaya) bowled really well and we were happy for him. Not the worst honeymoon pressure to have,” said Pothas.

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