Fresh Faces II: Young blood for England tour

 Chris Dhambarage, in the Daily News, 23 April 2011

The national selectors in an attempt to groom youngsters have taken a bold decision in naming three promising players in theSri Lankasquad for the three Test series against Englandstarting next week. The biggest sensation is of course the 24 year old fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep Fernando who has finally earned a place in the national team. He has been knocking at the door ever since he made his first class debut through some outstanding contributions with the ball. No wonder has was chosen as a key bowler in the Royal Challengers team which currently competes in the fourth edition of the high profile Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament. Fernando was born in Negombo and had his education at the Vidyaloka Maha Vidyalaya in Katana. But it was after he turned 20 that he really took to the game seriously and had the distinction of playing in the SLC Premier League tournament in 2008.

From there onwards he has made vast strides as a genuine fast bowler while representing Panadura SC,  BRC,  Bloomfield, Kandurata andRuhuna Province in the Inter Provincial limited overs tournament. In fact the feature in his bowling is his right arm slinging action and for his terrific deliveries which have put a number of top batsmen in a spot of trouble in the domestic and international scene.

Fernando had the honour of representing theSri Lanka’A’ team tour ofAustralialast year and was commended heavily by the Sri Lanka Cricket coaching staff for his untiring efforts even though he was unable to pick up a huge amount of wickets. But that tour certainly turned a new leaf in his career as he began to work hard at the nets while concentrating more on speed, accuracy and consistency. His ability to bowl fast for a long period is one reason that has prompted the national selectors to name him as one of the main strike bowlers in the Sri Lankan team. With the more experienced Lasith Malinga absent for the Test series Nuwan Pradeep has a great opportunity to stamp his class and earn a permanent place in the national team.

Opening batsman Lahiru Thirimanna is another fine investment for the national team and he will be a key player in the series againstEngland. The 21 year old stylish left hander will be making a strong claim having made his presence felt on more than a couple of occasions. This tour will no doubt be a great experience for young Thirimanna who has represented the country in just three One Day Internationals. However the former schoolboy from Prince of Wales College Moratuwa has a great amount of experience in domestic and first class cricket.

Meanwhile wicket keeper batsman Dinesh Chandimal has earned a recall to the national team as he look to consolidate his position as a solid middle order batsman. The 21 year old elegant right hander has had limited opportunities in the past to prove his potential and whenever he has given the chance he has always snatched the opportunity to make an impact. Chandimal was an automatic choice for the Sri Lanka Under 19 team as he touredMalaysiaas the vice captain for the ICC Youth World Cup inKuala Lumpur. He converted this series into a memorable one by winning the Man of the Match award in a high profile game againstAustralia. This performance was quite unique because he took the award not for his batting potential but for his sheer brilliance behind the stumps. He produced a similar effort where he held on to four catches behind the stumps against Bangladesh in a one day encounter in 2007.


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