Sri Lanka’s Dunith Wellalage broke through India’s top order, dismissing Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in the span of three overs during the Asia Cup, before later dismissing KL Rahul. Here’s all you need to know about the slow left-arm orthodox bowler.
Wellalage first made waves as a 13-year-old, when an impressive showing as a spinner for his school St. Sebastian’s helped him earn a place in the under-15 team. He represented the under-15 Division 1 team for three years and helped St. Sebastian’s reach the finals on two consecutive years, in 2015 and 2016. Though his team ended as runners-up on both occasions, he was named the best bowler of the tournament in both years and was also appointed as the Sri Lanka U15 captain.
He moved to St Joseph’s in 2017, where he not only sharpened his bowling skills but also blossomed as a batter. His biggest contribution with the bat was in January 2018, when he made 85 runs against his former school.
In 2017-18, Wellalage also ended as the top wicket-taker for St. Joseph’s, picking up 72 wickets in 18 games. The following season, his batting overshadowed his bowling, ending with over 700 runs in 15 games, with a top score of 197 (in 179 balls). He also picked up 50 wickets and was given a call-up to the under-19 team for the home series against Bangladesh.
However, Wellalage declined, in order to concentrate on his education. He finally made his youth Test debut in July 2018.
Wellalage was named the captain of the under-19 Sri Lanka team in October 2021 making his captaincy debut against Bangladesh. He ended 2021 with a bowling average of 13.26 in Youth ODIs and became the seventh player to score a 50 and pick up a five-for in the same under-19 ODI, achieving the feat against England.
He led Sri Lanka to the final of the youth Asia Cup that year, only to lose out to India. He was the captain during the under-19 World Cup last year, emerging as a player for the future with his all-round showings.
Wellalage was the tournament’s top wicket-taker with 17 wickets in six games at an average of 13.58, picking up two five-fors against Scotland and Australia. Against Australia, he also scored 52, becoming the only player with a half-century and a five-wicket haul in the same youth ODI on two occasions.
Wellalage also scored an impressive 113 against South Africa, becoming the first captain of the Sri Lanka team to make a hundred in the tournament. He ended as his team’s top run-scorer, making 264 in six innings. In six games, he walked away with the Player of the Match thrice and was soon given an international call-up in July 2022.
Dunith Wellalage takes to the international stage
Dunith Wellalage made his ODI debut against Australia, and picked up nine wickets in five games, with a bowling average of 22.33. His maiden wicket was Steve Smith, dismissing him with a shorter delivery, and he went on to take the wickets of David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Marnus Labuschagne (twice) through the course of the series.
He made his Test debut against Pakistan last year at Galle but has since not played any red-ball games for his country.
However, Wellalage continues to shine in the ODI format, already taking nine wickets in four games in the ongoing Asia Cup, picking up his career-best figures against India. He also has three 30-plus scores in nine innings with the bat and seems to be destined for greater things. He will be one of the players to watch at this year’s World Cup in India.
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