Sri Lanka assistant coach Naveed Nawaz said that Indian Premier League (IPL) opportunities with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) helped the young pace sensation Matheesha Pathirana become a more mature player under the leadership of MS Dhoni. India will take on Sri Lanka in their second Super Four Asia Cup match on Tuesday. Sri Lanka won their first Super Four match against Bangladesh and hence have a slight edge over India, whose fate in Super Four will receive either a boost or dent after the result of the high-profile clash between India-Pakistan clash comes out after the reserve day today. A loss or washout will get India only one point and make matches against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh must-win ones.
Nawaz first said that though IPL and MS helped in Pathirana’s development, he is first and foremost a product of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).
“MS Dhoni and Chennai could have played a part in his development, but Pathirana is the product of SLC. He has played two U19 World Cups for us. He is someone we identified at a young age. He has been in the development programmes of SLC,” said Nawaz in the pre-match press conference.
But he also said that playing IPL made the young pacer, often referred to as ‘Baby Malinga’ for his sling-like action similar to Sri Lankan great Lasith Malinga, a more mature player who could handle the pressure well.
“IPL opportunities have helped him mature his game. At 18-19, he got to play under a captain like MS Dhoni. I am sure that Matheesha would have learnt a lot from him about handling pressure, being in the centre during big CSK games. It is a good experience. We identified him at an early age, CSK saw something in him and picked up, but there is a contribution of them as well,” he said.
Pathirana has represented CSK in 14 games, taking 21 wickets at an average of 20.14 with best figures of 3/15. In the 2023 season, he took 19 wickets at an average of 12 games with best figures of 3/15. He was the ninth-highest wicket-taker in the tournament and third-highest for CSK next to Ravindra Jadeja (20) and Tushar Deshpande (21).
Currently, in Asia Cup 2023, he has taken eight matches at an average of 19.12 and an economy rate of 5.70, with the best figures of 4/32. He is SL’s top wicket-taker in the tournament and overall joint second-highest, with Pakistan’s Haris Rauf (9) at the top tied with Taskin Ahmed of Bangladesh.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya (vc), Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumraj, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Sanju Samson (travelling reserve).
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (c), Pathum Nissanaka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Janith Perera, Kusal Mendis (vc), Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Matheesha Pathirana, Kasun Rajitha, Dushan Hemantha, Binura Fernando, Pramod Madushan.
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