Dunith Wellalage whiplashes India’s batting orderwith maiden 5-wicket haul in Super 4 tie

Dinuth Wellalage

Asia Cup 2023: The Indian batting line-up faced stiff competition from Sri-Lanka’s bowling attack in what was the Men in Blues’ 3rd day straight playing the Continental competition at Colombo’s R Premadasa Stadium. 20-year-old left arm spinner Dinuth Wellalage well and truly rocked the spine of India’s batting line-up as he collected a maiden 5-wicket haul in his first outing against the Asian giants.

India thrashed arch-rivals Pakistan by 228 runs in the same venue yesterday but less than 24 hours later, 2 Sri-Lankan spinners rattled them to a point that reaching even 250 looked like a mountain to climb. It was right after a decent start that the sudden collapse began.

Skipper Rohit Sharma and his partner Shubman Gill carried the momentum from their win yesterday. The former scored his 51st half-century and also became the 2nd fastest batter after Virat Kohli to score 10,ooo runs in ODI cricket.

But the game actually began after the powerplay ended. Dunith Wellalage in the first ball of his 10-over quota, removed Shubman Gill with a fantastic left-arm off spinning ball, hitting top of the off-stump. In his 2nd over, Wellalage got rid of a Virat Kohli who scored an 84 ball 100 the day before as the latter handed an easy catch to Dasun Shanaka inside the circle at short leg.

Indian fans were expecting him to slow down but it kept getting better for Dunith. He removed Rohit Sharma, again in the first ball of his 3rd over. This time the pitch helped Wellalge as he bowled a fuller arm ball that dipped and skidded right across the leg-stump.

It was obvious that he was at cloud 9 and today he could not have done anything wrong. He was involved in the dismissal of Ishan Kishan as he pulled off a splendid catch at short cover area after a caught and bowled of KL Rahul, who became his 4th wicket.

Wellalage’s magic was on even in the final ball of his spell as Hardik Pandya knicked another off-spin ball with Kusal Mendis making no mistake. The 20-year-old finished his 10-over spell with an economy rate of just 4, spilling 40 runs and of course his maiden Five-for.

When he was in the field, another off-spinner Charith Asalanka rattled the Indian batting. The part time bowler thanks to the tailor made pitch for spinners, collected the remaining 4 wickets of Ishan Kishan, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav before the game was halted by rain.

Regardless of the ultimate result, the day will be remembered for the brilliant performance of Dinuth Wellalage who has also drawn comparison with former Lanka great Rangana Herath.