Sri Lanka head coach Chris Silverwood heaped praise on pacer Matheesha Pathirana after the latter’s career-best four for 32 reduced Bangladesh to a paltry 164 in an Asia Cup match here at the Pallekele International Stadium on Thursday.
Crediting him for being a quick learner, Silverwood said that the lanky 20-year-old would very soon be seen bowling with the new ball.
“He has worked very hard, and he absorbs information very well. He will continue to develop, and it won’t be long before he has that new ball in his hand,” he said.
Pathirana was Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni’s go-to weapon at the death in the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL), where he picked 18 of his 19 wickets in the last four overs at a frugal economy of 8.01.
Against Bangladesh on Thursday too, Pathirana showcased his prowess with the older ball as he deceived Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman in the same over with slower deliveries to wrap up the innings.
However, what caught the eye was Pathirana’s control with a newer ball. He dismissed Shakib Al Hasan in the 11th over – his first –with extra pace and later put a stranglehold on the scoring with his disciplined line and length. His clever mixing of nose-and-toes lengths had Mushfiqur Rahim playing an uppercut straight into the hands of third-man in the 33rd over.
Silverwood revealed Pathirana has been working on bowling with the newer ball and had made a few changes to adapt and evolve into this new role.
“He came to the World Cup Qualifiers with us, and he did a lot of work on how to bowl with the newer ball. We did a couple of little tweaks – not so much to his action but more with the run-up. That just gave him access to the stumps and he found he got more control through that,” the coach said, adding that experience in the IPL had also benefitted the youngster.
It was a clinical bowling performance by Sri Lanka, which is missing three of its first-choice fast bowlers and star leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga due to injuries. However, Silverwood saw the brighter side of it as the situation gave an opportunity to others.
“We have seen that when players are missing, it gives opportunity to other people as well. We managed to see [Dunith] Wellalage come back into the team and other people perform, whereas elsewhere they wouldn’t have got that opportunity. For me, as much as it hurts to miss big players, it is exciting to see the other talent come in and get an opportunity to shine,” he said.
Pathirana grabbed that opportunity with both hands and so did the rest of the bowlers, according to Silverwood.
“We had a bowling attack that had a little bit for everyone. We have off-spinners, left-arm spinners, fast bowlers and the X-factor in Matheesha. We had everything covered and I was happy with the combinations we had.”
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