Avishka Fernando’s World Cup century the ‘inspiration’ Sri Lanka needed — Mahela Jayawardene

‘His knock here won’t come as a surprise to many people in Sri Lanka. It has been obvious from the beginning that he has a lot of talent.’

Mahela Jayawardene on Avishka Fernando

Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has been so moved by 21-year-old Avishka Fernando‘s dashing century against West Indies at the World Cup that he believes the youngster’s “gutsy” performance will inspire Sri Lanka to build a strong side in time for the 2023 edition of the tournament.

Jayawardene, who is the head coach of 2019 IPL champs Mumbai Indians, said Sri Lanka desperately needed “inspiration” after being knocked out of this World Cup “to build from and take [Sri Lanka] forward into the next four years” which, according to Jayawardene, was precisely what Fernando’s century provided.

“It has been a tough couple of years for Sri Lanka but we have learned our lessons,” Jayawardene wrote in a column for the ICC. “It is important that we plan around a group of players who will be there for the next four years and I think Avishka has shown he has to be a big part of that.

“His knock here won’t come as a surprise to many people in Sri Lanka. It has been obvious from the beginning that he has a lot of talent,” Jayawardene added. “He showed character. He was aggressive and played with intent, refusing to shy away from the West Indies pacey attack. It was gutsy.

“He will take a lot of confidence from this and he has now proven to himself that he can go on and do it on the international stage.”

Fernando became the third-youngest to score a World Cup century when he made 104 off 103 balls, an innings that saw the burly rookie bludgeon two sixes and nine fours at a strike-rate above 100, which Jayawardene said was the “spark” the islanders required to turn things around.

The 1996 champions have had a whirlwind 2019 World Cup that has seen them notch up an unexpected win against tournament favourites England, as well as nail-biting victories against West Indies and Afghanistan, but washouts against Pakistan and Bangladesh, along with losses to New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, have seen Dimuth Karunaratne’s men failing to qualify for the semi-finals.

Sri Lanka has one inconsequential World Cup fixture remaining, which is against India on July 6 in Leeds, before they head home.

© Island Cricket

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  1. The sad reality is in all probability, we could even miss the next WC as we would almost certainly need to play qualifications and unless we make some dramatic changes, we may not qualify! So it is actually possible that Avi could have already played his last WC game. Yep I know it sounds all negative but that’s where are heading folks and no point sitting around saying all is rosy and there is plenty of talent but there is a very real risk that we need to play qualifiers. Anyone know what happened to Zim during the WC – they were playing Ireland when they should have been at the WC. We could be this come the next WC if we stand around talking rubbish about how much great talent we have – but somehow fail to see how this talent doesn’t perform at international level end end up losing to Zim at home!

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