He came to bowl, dismissed Mahmudullah Riyad and then triggered a collapse. It was a memorable debut for Akila Dananjaya.
A Test debut is always special for any cricketer, he has to win every race to make it to the national squad. He needs to be the best from his district, from his state, among his imminent peers to draw attention. It is no less than a dream come true for a cricketer to don the national whites. No words can describe the joy, but one shouldn’t overlook the kind of pressure a debutant goes through.
The pressure is always there, the pressure of justifying his selection, pressure of making an immediate impact, the pressure of announcing himself on a high, which is always beneficial. When Akila Dananjaya was handed the Test cap in the second Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka, another dream to play Test cricket came true for a talented and potent cricketer.
Akila Dananjaya is a testament to Sri Lanka’s reputation of producing unorthodox spinners on a regular basis. He has a plethora of variations up in his sleeves and possesses good control over it. He can bowl off-spin as well as leg-breaks, which is rare, extremely rare. He is a wizard of spin bowling and embraced Test cricket on a high, cleaning up Sri Lanka with three wickets to his name.
Sri Lanka did well to post a gritty total of 222 on a testing surface. The pitch had enough help for the spinners and Bangladeshi bowlers did well to exploit it. Sri Lanka showed some nerves of steel and got to a competitive total riding on Roshen Silva and Kusal Mendis’ fighting fifties. Runs from tail-enders is always a bonus for the batting side and frustrating for the opposition. Akila Dananjaya got a valuable 20 to make a good impression with the bat on his debut.
When Bangladesh walked out to bat, the pressure was certainly on Sri Lanka to get early wickets and inflict damage at the outset. Suranga Lakmal and Dilruwan Perera did well to get their side off to a flying start by chipping early wickets. Lakmal was outstanding with the new ball and at stumps on Day 1, Bangladesh were precariously placed at 56 for 4.
Akila creates havoc
Liton Das’ dismissal was an early blow for Tigers, but the presence of Mahmudullah and Mehidy Hasan Miraz gave the fans assurance. Sri Lankan captain threw the ball to debutant Akila Danajaya. The wily Lankan spinner broke the backbone of Bangladesh batting lineup in no time.
Danajaya delivered a gem of a ball to outfox Mahmudullah. It pitched slightly outside off from a good length, turned after landing and beat Mahmudallah’s defence to disturb the timber. That particular dismissal opened the floodgates and Bangladesh innings folded in the twinkle of an eye. They lost five wickets for just three runs – an embarrassing situation which one could notice ten or fifteen years ago.
At the end Day 1, not many would have predicted Bangladesh to flounder like nine pins on Day 2. They had some batting left and one would have expected them to get close to Sri Lanka’s total, but it wasn’t to be. A total of 14 wickets fell on Day 1, and the succeeding day was no different. Once again, a total of 14 wickets were fell on Day 2.
Roshen Silva’s stubborn resistance had been the talk of the town so far along with Bangladesh’s meek surrender. indeed, temperamentally, Bangladesh were very poor but very few could utilize the fragile mentality of a team and for a debutante, it’s never an easy task. But Akila showed he can spot the weakness of a team and utilise it ruthlessly.
It wouldn’t have got any better for the debutant to have the wicket of opposition captain as his first Test scalp. Bangladesh were in real trouble and needed a quiet partnership from somewhere.