Sri Lankan cricket

Udana tipped to succeed in limited-overs cricket

Isuru Udana's coach Anusha Samaranayake believes the fast bowler's variations will hold him in good stead in the limited-overs format

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

June 15, 2009

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Isuru Udana lets one rip, Lord's, May 30, 2009
Isuru Udana's ability to bowl well at the death will serve him well in the limited-overs format, his coach believes © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Isuru Udana
Teams: Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka's 27-year history as a Test-playing nation, Chaminda Vaas has remained their premier left-arm fast bowler. However, his replacement for the World Twenty20, Isuru Udana, in his brief international career, has shown immense promise, though any comparison with Vaas still remains highly premature. The decision to leave out Vaas for Udana was a gamble, but it appears to have paid dividends. Udana played a big part in knocking Australia out of the World Twenty20, capturing the wickets of Michael Clarke and David Hussey in his team's six-wicket win at Trent Bridge.

Udana's maiden wicket of Clarke is what he treasures the most in his experience at the highest level thus far. He possesses a well-disguised slower delivery which proved Clarke's undoing, producing a leading edge that he snapped brilliantly. "I consider that wicket as the one I cherish the most, not only because it was my first wicket in international cricket but also due to the way I reacted to hold onto the catch," Udana told Cricinfo.

Despite the two wickets against Australia, Udana did prove expensive, conceding 47 in four overs but his captain Kumar Sangakkara retained him for the next game against West Indies. He bowled at the death in the 19th over, conceding just 11 runs with 39 required for a West Indies win. Though he went wicketless, the experience will hold him in good stead in what is now still a fledgling career.

Udana's coach Anusha Samaranayake has had a significant influence on his development as a cricketer, and he said the bowler was unique compared to some of the other left-arm fast bowlers Sri Lanka has produced. "Vaas, Sujeewa de Silva and Chanaka Welagadera are all the same type of left-arm bowlers," he told Cricinfo. "They bowl over the wicket and bring the ball back into the right-hander. Udana is different. He bowls around the wicket and moves the ball away from the right-hander committing the batsman to a stroke.

"What makes Udana unique from the others is that he has a clever variation in his armoury. He has a well disguised slow bouncer as well as a slow ball. He is one of the best bowlers around who can bowl the slow bouncer. He has perfect control over it. He is the ideal type of one-day bowler," Samaranayake said.

Udana had worked his way up through district-level cricket where he was identified as potential fast bowler, and continued success in the domestic circuit won him a place in the Sri Lanka 'A' team on the tours of India and South Africa, where he impressed. However, it was the 2008-09 domestic season that brought him into the limelight, as he took 14 wickets at 20.57 and scored 138 runs at an average of 46 for Tamil Union. He represented Wayamba in the inter-provincial Twenty20 tournament, taking 16 wickets from seven games, including four in the final against Basnahira South to help his team win the competition.

Samaranayake said Udana was the kind of bowler who would prove highly effective in the death overs, but did acknowledge he had more work to do. "Udana bowls at around 128-130 kph, a pace which is good enough for him to try out his various variations," he said. "His mental make up is very strong but he has to work a little bit more on the physical side and needs to put on a little more weight."

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