Sri Lanka’s Nuwan Kulasekara calls time on international career
Nuwan Kulasekara (AFP Image)

After Lasith Malinga‘s retirement from ODIs, another Sri Lanka fast bowler, Nuwan Kulasekara, has decided to call time on international cricket with immediate effect, as per Sri Lanka media reports. Kulasekara was part of Sri Lanka’s victorious World T20 campaign in Bangladesh in 2014 and finishes his career with 313 international wickets from 263 appearances across ODIs, Tests and T20Is

Kulasekara made his ODI debut in 2003 as a 21-year-old in a home series against England. He ended up playing 184 ODIs with 199 wickets at an economy rate of 4.9. He played 58 T20Is and recorded 66 wickets. READ: Malinga to retire after 1st Bangladesh ODI

“I had the privilege of representing Sri Lanka in every major ICC event between 2007-2014, where the team played in two 50-over World Cup finals, three T20 World Cup finals, including our victorious one in 2014 against India. I was honoured to be the vice-captain of this World Cup-winning team,” Kulasekara said.

“There are several instances that come to mind [when I think of my favourite memories on the field]. Bowling the penultimate over of the 2014 World T20 final definitely stands out. Before that, in the first match we played in that tournament against South Africa; I won’t forget bowling the 19th over in that game either. My five wickets against Australia in Brisbane also stands out.

“There was also the Test against England at Lord’s in 2006, where [Chaminda] Vaas and I managed to put together a good partnership [of 61 runs in the first innings and then a 105-run stand in the second] to help draw the game [in which Kulasekara also scored 64, his only Test fifty].

“I represented my team and nation with the highest amount of pride and admiration; nothing was more important to me than seeing Sri Lanka at the top of world cricket. I have no regrets, every day that I played cricket I was happy, and I leave the sport happily.”

Kulasekara’s final appearance for Sri Lanka was an ODI against Zimbabwe at Hambantota, shortly after he had played his final T20I against Bangladesh. He quit Tests in 2016 having played 21 matches in which he picked up 48 wickets since his debut back in 2016. His last Test was at Lord’s in 2014.

However, Kulasekara was always a more established limited-overs bowler. His death-overs bowling along with Malinga against India in the final of the 2014 World T20 remains one of his most unforgettable spells. In four overs, he conceded 29 runs, dismissed Yuvraj Singh and kept India to just 130. In 2008, Kulasekara reached the pinnacle of men’s ODIs bowling rankings.

Kulasekara revealed that he had made up his mind to retire after the World Cup but held back due to a special request made by Malinga.

“I was going to announce my retirement straight after the World Cup but Lasith Malinga made a special request during the world cup to play alongside me in his final game. As such, I wanted to see if there was any way to make that happen. That’s why my retirement announcement was delayed,” he explained.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Lasith for remembering me. It shows great strength for one cricketer to speak about another, and it’s not the first time Lasith has done something like this.”

Kulasekara further added that following Malinga’s request, he approached Sri Lanka Cricket for a farewell match. But since the SLC never got back to him, Kulasekara knew he had to bow out.

“It was because of Lasith’s request that I also made a request to SLC, to see if there was a possibility of being selected in a farewell match. But I don’t think it fit in with SLC’s plans as I haven’t heard back from them.

“They did however say that the third ODI will be dedicated to me, even though that’s not what I had requested. What I had asked was whether it was possible to do what Malinga had suggested, and play [with him] in his final game, together. But a 22-man squad had already been selected, and it’s from that squad that the team for the first ODI is going to be selected. So, with the match just a couple of days away, I felt that there was no chance of that happening, which is why I’m announcing my retirement now.”