Who Are the Sri Lankan Players Brought in for Remainder of IPL 2021?
Why are there so few players from Sri Lanka in the IPL?
After a break of 4 months due to the coronavirus breaching bio-secure bubbles, IPL 2021 is back with the second half of the tournament. Only this time, it is being played in UAE, much like 2020, but with fans at stadiums, unlike last year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has meant not only a break in the tournament itself but changes in squads for the second half. While most of the replacements have been around the T20 leagues, the Royal Challengers Bangalore replacements aren’t names very commonly heard in IPL conversations.
The Virat Kohli led RCB have brought in Tim David, Dushmantha Chameera, Wanindu Hasaranga, George Garton to replace Daniel Sams, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, Finn Allen, Scott Kuggeleijn. Up until now, in 7 games, RCB have 10 points and are third on the table.
With the legendary Lasith Malinga announcing retirement from all forms of cricket on 14 September, RCB’s Sri Lankan recruits Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga are the only two players from the island country who are part of the tournament as players currently. Malinga, who skipped the last year, was part of four championship winning campaigns with Mumbai Indians and finished with 170 wickets from 122 games.
Well known for being a slippery pacer and one who has good control, an excellent yorker and an effective slower ball in his arsenal, Dushmantha Chameera has 31 wickets from 31 games for Sri Lanka in the shortest format. Chameera, who played for the Colombo Kings in the 2020 Lanka Premier League and was part of the Rajasthan Royals squad in 2018, has done well in T20Is this year. He has 15 wickets to his name in 11 matches at an economy rate of less than 6.5.
The Sri Lankan not only had an impressive outing against India in July but also gave England’s batters a fair amount of trouble in Southampton. Chameera not only made a mark against India, picking 6 wickets in 4 white-ball games but also has been among the wickets against South Africa.
As RCB look to rotate their players, Chameera is likely to be a vital cog in the final stages of the league phase. He will however not be available for the knockouts due to the T20 World Cup qualifiers.
A hard-hitting lower middle order batter and a leg spinner, Wanindu Hasaranga’s fine run in junior cricket about 5 years ago pushed him into the spotlight. Currently in-form and having had troubled the Indians on their tour of Sri Lanka recently, Hasaranga has a chance to make his mark on the glitzy world of the IPL.
Known to keep things tidy at his end and create chances for wickets as well, Hasaranga’s googly and slider are often the most cause of concern for batters, much like is the case with the far more dangerous Rashid Khan.
For RCB, who are still hunting for their first title, Hasaranga could just be the all-rounder they need to back up the power hitters in the line-up.
Against India in Sri Lanka in July, he picked 7 wickets in 3 games with a best of 4/9 in the final T20I, while in the white-ball games against the South Africans, he’s taken 7 wickets in 6 games, going wicketless in only 1.
Why Aren’t There More Sri Lankan Players?
While countries like England and Australia have quite a few players part of the IPL, former World champions Sri Lanka’s representation in the IPL has been quite low. While there has been Malinga and the likes Muttiah Muralitharan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, who are all currently involved with a franchise in planning and stratergising, there haven’t been much in terms of players in the tournament.
Isuru Udana, Kusal Perera and Thisara Perera were part of the auction but all went unsold while rookie spinner Vijayakanth Vilasanti made it among the 298 players that were shortlisted to go under the hammer.
“A bit disappointed. I'm sure a few of the guys were on the radar, but I think it's a tough place because you're looking at 20-odd slots for the overseas players and the majority of the slots were for those fast bowlers and all-rounders, which I think Sri Lanka lacks a little bit of that," ESPNcricinfo quoted Jayawardene as saying.
"There were some fantastic players [in the Lanka Premier League] and in Sri Lanka currently. But I think the crucial thing is the unpredictability of the touring programme of SLC [Sri Lanka Cricket] where it is very hard to predict for how long the players can be available and if they have to even leave at some point in the IPL season," Sangakkara, Director of Cricket for Rajasthan Royals had said.
"So it adds a bit of volatility that franchises kind of shy away from. That is one of the reasons you see a lack of Sri Lanka players in the IPL and definitely not because they don't have the capability," he added.
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