Home > Features >

Nuwan Kulasekara’s class is there for all to see in the ongoing tour of Australia

Nuwan Kulasekara's class is there for all to see in the ongoing tour of Australia

Nuwan Kulasekara has been Sri Lanka’s most successful bowler in ODIs in the last five years after Lasith Malinga © Getty Images

By Karthik Parimal

Not many teams from the subcontinent fancy an outing in Australian conditions, but Sri Lanka will beg to differ. Although they were comprehensively outplayed by the hosts in the longer version of the game, the challenge presented to them during One-Day Internationals (ODI) is something the visitors seem to relish, time and again. In the last few years Down Under, the Sri Lankans have already trumped the Australians in a bilateral contest, knocked India out and barged their way into the finals of the Commonwealth Bank series in 2012, and are level with the hosts this time around.

Had rain not intervened during the fourth ODI at Sydney, there was a high probability of the result tilting in favour of the Sri Lankans.

In their last 15 ODIs played at Australia, the Sri Lankans have lost just six. Although established batsmen like Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Angelo Mathews feature in the batting line-up, bowling has always been Sri Lanka’s mainstay, even after the exit of a stalwart in the form of Muttiah Muralitharan. The towering presence of Lasith Malinga has neutralised any sting that could have possibly been felt with that void that was created.

However, during this transition phase, Nuwan Kulasekara’s contributions have taken a backseat. The unorthodoxy of Ajantha Mendis and the left-arm guile of Rangana Herath were often talked about, but seldom was light shed on Kulasekara’s performances. Now, as he ends the ODI series against Australia as the highest wicket-taker, it’s heartwarming to note that the immense value he adds to the Sri Lankan side is finally being realised.

“Nuwan has been very consistent for us for quite a few years, and he’s built a nice little partnership with Lasith. It’s not just in-swingers. He’s bowling the outer ones as well now, which keeps straight and a bit of seam as well,” said captain Jayawardene.

During his debut against England at Dambulla back in 2003, Kulasekara stood out in a bowling attack that featured first-rate bowlers like Chaminda Vaas, Muralitharan and Dilhara Fernando.  He conceded 19 runs for two wickets from 9 overs and gave a glimpse into what he was capable of on the big stage. In due course of time, his deliveries ceased to be venomous, but the fact that he staged a comeback, against all odds, to take 47 wickets between April 2008 and March 2009, spoke volumes of his character. Rightfully then, he blazed his way to the top of the list featuring the best ODI bowlers in 2009, and stayed put at that position for a considerable amount of time.

Part of Kulasekara’s success can be attributed to Malinga. The latter has instilled a sense of fear into many an opposition and they are exorbitantly watchful when dealing with him. As a reason, batsmen tend to loosen up against the rest, and Kulasekara deserves a pat on his back for using this situation to his benefit. The effort he puts is there to be seen in each of his deliveries, and that is what has made him a force to reckon with during recent times.

He has been Sri Lanka’s most successful bowler in ODIs since the last five years after Malinga.

Below are the statistics, since January 2008

Player ODIs Wkts Ave ER
Lasith Malinga 91 146 27.17 5.22
Nuwan Kulasekara 111 135 30.75 4.67
Ajantha Mendis 61 98 21.37 4.39
Muttiah Muralitharan 53 79 25.37 4.42

The slight variation in his average when compared to the rest is understandable, considering the number of matches he’s featured in, but his economy rate is better than the country’s premium fast bowler, and that deserves praise.

During the same phase, if just the performances away from home are taken into account, then Kulasekara finds himself slightly ahead of Malinga in the wickets column – and that is due to the additional 13 games he’s played comparatively – but he’s almost on par with the average and, yet again, sports a better economy rate.

Player ODIs Wkts Ave ER
Nuwan Kulasekara 48 60 30.91 4.66
Lasith Malinga 35 57 28.26 5.14

These matches were spanned across Australia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Zimbabwe and England.
Since his debut in 2003, Kulasekara has bowled the maximum number of overs for Sri Lanka in ODIs, and is the joint second highest wicket-taker alongside Muralitharan.

Although it’s unlikely that his name will be mentioned in the class of Malinga or Muralitharan, statistics will continue to reveal the immense value he adds to this Sri Lankan side. A replication of the purple patch he hit in 2009 could drastically nullify the previous statement, but for now, he remains an unsung hero.

(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal)

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

West Indies tour of India 2014, Practice match

Oct 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Mumbai

Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, 2014

Oct 4, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, 2014

Oct 4, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Brisbane

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014  at Bengaluru

Barbados won by 6 wkts (D/L method)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014  at Bengaluru

Perth Scorchers won by 3 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 29, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 36 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 7 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Hobart Hurricanes won by 6 wkts

Photos

Barbados Tridents vs Hobart Hurricanes, CLT20 2014

Videos

Arjuna Ranatunga shares his views on U-19 cricket

Mitchell Marsh helps Perth Scorchers clinch 3-wicket victory against Lahore Lions in CLT20 2014

Live Cricket Score Barbados Tridents vs Northern Knights CLT20 2014 Match 20: Barbados Tridents win by 6 wickets

Gautam Gambhir becomes second player after MS Dhoni to captain in 100 T20 matches

Consecutive century opening partnerships in ODIs for each team

Have Manish Pandey’s T20 performances eclipsed his impressive First-Class record?

Asian Games Asian Games 2014 Cape Cobras Champions League T20 2014 Chennai Super Kings CLT20 CLT20 2014 Dolphins India at Asian Games 2014 Kings XI Punjab Lahore Lions Perth Scorchers

Afghanistan through to semi-finals in Asian Games 2014; beat Nepal by 8 runs

Matthew Maynard named new director of Somerset

New Zealand announce squad for Pakistan series in UAE in November

Yorkshire duo Adam Lyth. Alex Lees eye England honours after awards

Barbados Tridents vs Northern Knights, Match 20, CLT20 2014: Barbados register 6-wicket win in final group match

Nawaz Sharif’s only First-Class appearance

Ernie Jones — the man who sent a ball through the beard of WG Grace

Top score by a batsman whose teammates scored less than 10 each in a T20

Gautam Gambhir becomes second player after MS Dhoni to captain in 100 T20 matches

Lahore Lions vs Perth Scorchers Match 19 CLT20 2014: Lahore likely XI

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

671 Posts | 6 Fans

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab- Final Match Highlights from IPL 2014

Sex after pregnancy — how to get her in the mood

US say hackers targeted Microsoft, game makers

Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and Abhishek Bachchan back in the city after SLAM! The Tour

Asian Games 2014 Live Updates: Aarti Khakal crashes out in Round of 32 of Women’s 57kg Taekwondo event

Anil Kapoor to build his own film studio?

Microsoft’s Windows 10 unveiled

Health Minister says UHAM to be world’s largest public health insurance programme

Asian Games 2014 Medal Table: Japan 3rd in the Medal Tally with 38 Gold Medals

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here