Home > Features > Moments in history >

Sachithra Senanayake: Sri Lanka’s consistent performer who found his stardom through IPL

Sachithra Senanayake © AFP
Sachithra Senanayake has played 21 ODIs as of February 9, 2014, for Sri Lanka. He has though played only one Test so far © AFP

Born on February 9, 1985, from the country of a spin wizard and a mystery spinner, Sachithra Senanayake, has carved out his own niche in the off-spin category for Sri Lanka. Abhijit Banare looks at the career of Senanyake so far and what he has to offer in the future.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has been an effective tool for players to make a point to their national selectors. It may not hold true in India as IPL hasn’t resurrected as many careers in comparison to international ones who participate. Brad Hogg, Brad Hodge, Kieron Pollard and many others have emerged from this hut. A lesser known but a high impact player made his debut in the sixth edition in 2013 — Sachithra Senanayake. In fact Senanayake had garnered enough eyebrows much earlier when Kolkata Knight Riders placed a bid of $625,000. That sounds a big spend on a team which already had Sunil Narine, a proven demon for batsmen in Twenty20 cricket. The IPL made him a star but the off-spinner has been the leading wicket-taker and has been one of the most consistent spinners in Sri Lanka’s domestic circuit.

Debut

He made his entry into First-Class cricket through Sinhalese Sports Club at the age of 21 in 2006-07 but it was the following two seasons which made an impact as he picked 50 and 64 wickets respectively. His best season was yet to come with 72 scalps in 2009-10. With 376 wickets so far in 71 First-Class matches, Senanayake has been a delight in the domestic circuit. The national selection finally arrived with in 2012. He made his debut for Sri Lanka in the One-Day Internationals (ODI) against South Africa at Kimberley in January 2012. Bowling in South Africa and Australia have not really been a productive place for spinners and on expected lines, Senanayake hardly made a difference. He was dropped from the side.

After making news for bagging a fortune in the auction where he was picked by Kolkata Knight Riders, Senanayake made his debut against Sunrisers Hyderabad. On the home turf at Eden Gardens, he won the confidence of skipper Gautam Gambhir by sending down his four overs for just 18 runs. The big match was against Kings XI Punjab at Mohali where along with Narine, the two plotted Punjab’s downfall. On a pacer-friendly pitch it was the two spinners who shared five wickets between them. In his second match, Senanayake had caught the eyes and had dismissed Adam Gilchrist and the explosive David Miller.

With a modest run-up, the off-spinner, similar to Narine focuses on his finger spin in his variations and often disguises the wrong ones (doosra) with the use of his wrists. Senanayake isn’t as unplayable as Narine, but the amount of variations he has is good enough to keep the batsmen guessing. But as with Narine, who was blunted in the longer formats of the game, Senanayake has a long way to go. Even in his last five matches, Senanayake has failed to pick any wickets and in the 21 ODIs he has played, he has picked up only 18 wickets. But in the 20-overs format, he has 12 wickets in eight matches and the economy rate has been under six. In an era where the odds are heavily against the bowlers, just about 30 international matches across formats aren’t the best parameter to judge Senanayake’s potential.

 

What does he have to offer?

After a long wait, Sri Lanka’s pace attack seems to be finding its way through Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep and Dilruwan Perera. But the spin department still seems to be hovering around the veteran Rangana Herath while the shorter versions of the game have seen rotating spinners. Senanayake is one such player who may have shined in the T20 format but has the ability to sustain his career in the longer run. And the selectors too have entrusted their faith in the off-spinner. Despite being an irregular in the side, he was among the 17 players to receive a central contract. (The contracts itself came under the crisis between the Sri Lankan board and players).

Seeguke Prasanna and Akila Dhananjaya are among the new spinners who can make a mark for Sri Lanka but Senanayake is a touch ahead with the wickets and experience.

Senanayake wouldn’t mind delaying his birthday celebrations for a while. He currently commands an impressive base price of Rs 1 crore in the IPL and is among the few Sri Lankans in the upper half of the base price. The T20 format and the leagues may well be Senanayake’s road to limelight, but at the end, he can do well to use these experiences of playing in the IPL to make a better impact in the national team.

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 20, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at St George's, Grenada

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 21, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Bulawayo

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at St George's, Grenada

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 23, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Hambantota

India tour of England 2014

Aug 25, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Bristol

More

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 19, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 61 runs

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 17, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 93 runs

India tour of England 2014

Aug 15, 2014  at London

England won by an innings and 244 runs

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 14, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 105 runs

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 9, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 9 wkts

Photos

Highlights of Mahela Jayawardene’s Test career

Videos

Hughes explains technique behind cut shot

Will Duncan Fletcher exit, or will he hang on and risk getting sacked?

India’s coaching saga: Need stable options leading up to the ICC World Cup 2015

Ravi Shastri’s appointment could be the last straw for Duncan Fletcher

Michael Vaughan and his Twitter misdemeanours

Ravi Shastri will be His Master’s Voice; Joe Dawes and Trevor Penney convenient ‘bakras’

England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Pakistan Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Pakistan vs Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs Pakistan Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2014

Imran Khan – Nawaz Sharif meeting announcement turns out to be fake

MS Dhoni’s failure in England series mocked by Amul

Ravi Shastri: Do not expect a miracle in 15-odd days

Kapil Dev-led selection committee makes no changes in Arjuna Awards recommendation list

Justice Mudgal committee clarifies there was no interaction with N Srinivasan and Gurunath Meiyappan

Bernard Tancred: Best batsman of the first South African side

BCCI appoints Justice Mudgal to probe India’s overseas defeats

Quinton de Kock equals record of fastest to reach 1,000 ODI runs

Will Duncan Fletcher exit, or will he hang on and risk getting sacked?

Bangladesh tour of West Indies 2014: Visitors need teamwork to produce noticeable performance

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

659 Posts | 6 Fans

India tour of England 2014: Sunil Gavaskar says Indian batsmen did not learn anything

Indian Mujahideen planned to send poison letters to kill targets: Delhi Police

New Call to invest $100 million to buy mid-sized telecom firms in India

Indian cricket needs Sourav Ganguly’s ‘dadagiri’

Ex flames Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra avoid each other?

Airtel in talks with American Tower Corporation & Eaton tower for sale of its tower assets in Africa

BKS Iyengar’s legacy: Celebs who swear by Iyengar Yoga

5 ways to skip lipstick for healthy lips

Comedy Nights with Kapil: Kapil Sharma’s pet dog entertains Shahid Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here