Another Lankan mystery spinner, Akila Dananjaya Perera … A triple promotion from nets to the big league

Michael Roberts

Pic by Ron Gaunt of Sportzpix

This essay is premature. So, too, is Akila Dananjaya alias Mahamarakkala Kurukulasooriya Patabendige Akila Dananjaya Perera. He is so “unripe” and little known that I could not locate him in one’s recce journey is confused by the presence of umpteen Pereras and one KAK Dananjaya as well as one RKGD Dananjaya or Rankoth Gedara Krishan Dinidu Dananjaya.

The story goes that he cropped up as a net bowler for the Sri Lankan players somewhere [WHERE precisely?]; and that he so impressed Mahela Jayewardene that he asked the selectors to include him in the Squad of 30 listed for the forthcoming T20 tournament.

In brief, here was an 18-year old lad who had not played for a club at any professional level pitchforked upwards into the highest ranks in one hell of a trampoline scoop. It is a tale of rags to riches that outdoes the magical story of one Lasith Malinga, whose performance at the nets in Galle so frightened and impressed Marvan Atapattu and  Mahela that they promoted his rapid rise into the A team and then the First Fifteen touring Australia.

Akila Dananjaya’s sudden emergence in this manner raised hackles in sports writer circles. He is now making these good men eat their doubts. His performance for Wayamba United in the matches thus far have been excellent. T 20 is a lottery and many bowlers who return super-figures on one day are taken to the cleaners the next day. Though Sohail Tanvir has cut a swathe through some sides, he too had one bad day. Not so MKPAD Perera thus far: 0 for 24 vs Uthuru Rudras; 2 for 20 vs Uva; 2 for 16 vs Basnahira Dundee; and 3 for 18 vs Nagenahira.  In the result his overall figures up to this point are 4 matches, 16 overs, 77 runs, 7 wkts at an average of 11.00 and E/R of 4.81 and S/R of 13.7.

As remarkably, Akila Dananjaya is not listed or pictured in the Wayamba squad placed on cricinfo in early July!! This is as comical as magical is it not!

It is to Ryan Francis’s credit that he scooped the AKILA factor for Islandcricket well before anyone else. It is no surprise that MKPAD Perera, the Akila hunter (cf. Attila the Hun), is hunting scalps for Wayamba who are led by Mahela. Congrats Mahela!


‘I have four types of deliveries’ – Akila Dananjaya’ … Ryan Francis

Sri Lanka’s newest spin sensation is yet to play a single first-class or List A match, but has become one of the talking points of the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) tournament. The 18-year-old net bowler Akila Dananjaya was spotted by Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene who, to the surprise of many, requested the selectors to include the teenager in Sri Lanka’s 30-man World Twenty20 2012 preliminary squad last month.

Dananjaya had never played a game of professional cricket at that stage, which sparked rumours that his selection was politically motivated. The rumours were squashed shortly after, when it was revealed that the Sri Lankan skipper had identified something special in the young bowler. Jayawardene showed no hesitation in picking Dananjaya in the Wayamba United squad for the inaugural SLPL.

Now, with three T20 matches under his belt – all of them played in the ongoing SLPL – Dananjaya has caught the eye of several former players in the commentary box, which prompted them to interview the young lad at the conclusion of the match between Wayamba and Basnahira on Sunday. Dananjaya was confusing television commentators who did not know whether to classify him as an off spinner or a leg spinner. “I bowl off-spin mostly, but I have four types of deliveries – leg spin, googly, carrom ball and doosra. They are my own inventions and variations,” Dananjaya explained.

The youngster went on to thank Jayawardene for the faith he has shown in him and the opportunity to play at the SLPL. “I’m very happy to be a part of this tournament and it’s a great honour. Mahela Jayawardene has given me good support, this is a good team,” he said. Dananjaya has bowled impressively in the tournament thus far, and has shown that he doesn’t mind tossing the ball up. A bowling average of under 15, along with an economy rate of under five runs per over, has complimented his four-wicket tally. And with Wayamba left with three more matches before the semi-final stage, Dananjaya still has plenty of time to improve on his figures and perhaps even earn a spot in Sri Lanka’s final World Twenty20 squad.

© Island Cricket

ALSO SEE Channaka de Silva’s article in …. which also has blog comments

and SEE Dion Michael in


Filed under performance, SL Premier League, Sri Lanka Cricket, T20 Cricket, tower of strength, Under 19 cricket, unusual people, work ethic

2 responses to “Another Lankan mystery spinner, Akila Dananjaya Perera … A triple promotion from nets to the big league

  1. Tissa Tillakaratne

    This is the best that the SLPL has done in a time the Sri Lankan team is lacking of strike spinners of the calibre of Murali. Hope Dannjaya is brought under good coaches of all forms of the game to be an all rounder.

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