Captain requests unknown 18-year-old in Sri Lanka WT20 squad
By Staff Writers | July 26, 2012
The inclusion of Akhila Dhananjaya, a previously unknown schoolboy cricketer, in Sri Lanka's ICC World Twenty20 provisional squad and the Wayamba squad for the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) caused an uproar amongst cricket enthusiasts on the island, as the 18-year-old had failed previously to make it into Sri Lanka's under-19 World Cup squad.
But Dhananjaya, who is a mystery spinner of sorts with several variations, did not miss out on the under-19 World Cup due to a lack of skill or unimpressive performances. In 12 matches for his alma mater Mahanama Vidyalaya in Panadura this season he took 60 wickets, according to reports.
"We [the national selection panel] took over the under-19 selections only after the Asia Cup. We were not familiar with them [under-19 players] because we had not worked with them," chief selector Ashantha de Mel admitted to the Daily Mirror newspaper in Sri Lanka.
"We had to go with the recommendations of the former selection committee [when picking the under-19 World Cup squad] because we were not in a position to look at anything. They had selected a squad of thirty and we had to work within that squad and what they gave.
"We basically had to agree because we didn’t know anything. We hadn’t seen the boys."
According to Sri Lanka's chief selector, Dhananjaya has "the same kind of doosra as Ajmal" and was picked up by Mahela Jayawardene at the SLPL auction without hesitation. The Sri Lankan skipper had also requested the spinner's inclusion in the World Twenty20 squad because he had felt the young spinner showed a lot of promise.
Dhananjaya impressed the Sri Lankan captain and other batsmen as a net bowler but de Mel said he is yet to see the young lad in action.
"We selected him on the basis of the request of the captain and the coach and not for anything else," he said.
Dhananjaya will likely represent Wayamba in this year's SLPL, which starts on August 11, although the final squads are yet to be named.
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