Fernando and Bhanuka - cricketing stars in the making | Daily News

Fernando and Bhanuka - cricketing stars in the making

Asitha Fernando
Asitha Fernando

Asitha Fernando and Minod Bhanuka, who made their Test debut against South Africa at The Wanders in Johannesburg on Sunday, are two promising cricketers capable of carrying the Sri Lankan Team to great heights in the future.

Fernando (23), who became the 153rd Test player for his country, is a right-arm medium paceman, who has been on the National Team radar since 2016 when he came through the ranks as a player of high potential. The former schoolboy of St. Sebastian’s College Katuneriya, caught the eye during the International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 World Cup 2016 in Bangladesh, where he emerged as Sri Lanka’s top wicket-taker. In six matches at the tournament, Fernando took 11 wickets, at a fine average of 16.45 and had best figures of four wickets for 43.

Thereafter, he made his First-Class debut and was included in the Sri Lanka ‘A’ Team that played against the Pakistan ‘A’ Team at Leicester, England in 2016.

In fact, Fernando had a splendid outing in that clash as he captured seven wickets against a side that included players of the calibre of Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman and Sharjeel Khan.

Five of his wickets came in the second innings when he returned excellent figures of five wickets for 33, including the scalp of Azam, which helped Sri Lanka ‘A’ cruise to a 33-run victory.

A year later, he made his One Day International (ODI) debut against Zimbabwe at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium in Hambantota.

But he struggled, bowling two expensive overs in a rain-curtailed encounter and since then he has failed to make an international XI till date, although he did earn call-ups frequently as a squad option.

Fernando was also part of the Galle Gladiators Franchise in the Lanka Premier League (LPL) 2020 and took four wickets in as many matches for the side.

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Bhanuka, who became the 152nd Test cap for his country, is a left-hand wicket-keeper-batsman who scored a great amount of runs at domestic level for nearly five years before graduating to the National Team in 2019.

The former schoolboy of Maliyadeva College, Kurunegala, made his limited-overs debut for Sri Lanka during the tour of Pakistan in October 2019.

He played an ODI and two T20 Internationals and scored a steady 36 from 39 deliveries in his solitary ODI appearance, to prevent a Sri Lankan slide.

However, Bhanuka had to wait for over a year thereafter, to make his next international appearance.

In 54 First-Class matches, Bhanuka averages just under 45 having piled up 3,530 runs including 11 centuries.

He has a First-Class strike-rate of over 70 and he was a key player for the Jaffna Stallions Franchise at the 2020 LPL, scoring a 26-ball 40 for the team against Galle Gladiators in one outing.

Bhanuka of course, came through the Sri Lanka youth ranks, and represented the side in two matches at the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).