June 29, 2001

Hathurusingha recalled to strengthen sagging middle-order

Former Sri Lanka all-rounder Chandika Hathurusingha was recalled to the national squad by the cricket selectors on Friday to bolster the team's sagging middle order.

The squad is presently training to meet India and New Zealand in a one-day triangular commencing next month and India in a three-Test series in August. Also added to the squad whose total strength has now been expanded to 26, are Sri Lanka 'A' team players - batsman Avishka Gunawardana and fast bowlers Ruchira Perera and Dinusha Fernando.

Hathurusingha joins two other experienced batsmen in the squad, Aravinda de Silva and Hashan Tillakaratne in an attempt to strengthen the vulnerable Sri Lanka middle-order.

His inclusion once again emphasises the fact that the younger players of whom a lot was expected have failed to deliver. The recently concluded three-Test unofficial series against Pakistan 'A' didn't bring forth the desired results with Chamara Silva, Indika de Saram, Tillekeratne Dilshan and to some extent, Kumar Sangakkara all failing to fulfil the faith laid on them by the selectors.

The 32-year-old Hathurusingha, was last recalled to the national team for the 1999 World Cup tournament in England. In fact, this is the fourth time in his career he has been recalled to pull the national team out of a crisis.

He has represented Sri Lanka in 26 Tests scoring 1274 runs (avg. 29.62) with 83 as the highest of his eight fifties, and taken 17 wickets at 46.41 apiece. Hathurusingha, who began his international career as an opening batsman was first dropped from the national team after South African fast bowler Allan Donald virtually ended his career by taking his wicket on seven out of eight occasions in the Test and one-day series played at home in 1993.

He was recalled to the team again in 1995 where he went on the tours to Pakistan and Australia, but was dropped once more for the 1996 World Cup which Sri Lanka won.

Two years later Hathurusingha was again recalled for the 1998 tour to England following a splendid domestic season with Moors SC where he won the 'Man of the Tournament' award. But soon after the tour he was dropped and was again recalled for the 1999 World Cup in England.

Hathurusingha gets his fourth recall to the national squad on the strength of his all-round performance for Sampath Bank in the recently concluded Mercantile 'A' division tournament where he won the 'Most Valuable Player of the Tournament' award.

For the past three years, Hathurusingha has batted in the middle-order for Moors SC and his company and, turned in some fine performances with both bat and ball, bowling at right-arm gentle medium-pace.

He missed the early part of the 2000-01 Premier domestic season for Moors SC as he was playing for Prahan in the Australian district. He returned in time for the Plate championships and helped Moors SC finish runner-up to Sebastianites scoring 217 runs (avg. 31.00) from five games and taking nine wickets (avg. 30.22).