With experience of only 4 ODI matches, Matheesha Pathirana headed into the Asia Cup 2023 with big expectations and responsibility on his shoulders after Sri Lanka’s senior pace trio of Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Dilshan Madushanka all got injured and ruled out of the tournament.
To make matters even worse for the defending champions, their main spinner Wanindu Hasaranga too was injured and unfit to play in the Asia Cup.
20-year-old fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana and 23-year-old spinner Maheesh Theekshana both stepped up in the absence of the big guns and delivered brilliantly with the ball in Sri Lanka’s first match of the Asia Cup vs Bangladesh in Pallekele. Pathirana took 4/32 in 7.4 overs and Theekshana took 2/19 in 8 overs as Bangladesh got bundled out for an under-par score of 164.
Matheesha Pathirana was fantastic in the middle overs and death-overs. He accounted for the two big wickets of Bangladesh’s most experienced players – Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim, before toppling tailenders Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman.
Matheesha Pathirana’s usage of slower ball and slower yorkers was what in particular stood out; he even outfoxed Shakib with his slower length ball while his yorkers took out the tailenders.
Speaking in the mid-game interview, the young Sri Lankan pacer was happy to note that his slower balls worked today.
“Last I played ODIs in Qualifiers. Took some experience and came here. The wicket was pretty dead in the first half. That’s why I tried slower balls and other things,” said Pathirana.
Very difficult to adjust to ODIs after T20s: Matheesha Pathirana
Not too long ago, he was headlining in the IPL 2023 for the Chennai Super Kings. Pathirana took 19 wickets in 12 matches in IPL 2023, helping CSK win their 5th IPL trophy. Matheesha Pathirana has an experience of 30 T20 matches but has not even played 10 List-A matches in his career so far.
He said that adjusting his bowling from T20 cricket to ODI is tough, but he’s happy to learn the trades to do well in the 50-over format.
“Very difficult to adjust to ODIs so soon after T20s. But I will manage it,” Pathira added.
India’s R Ashwin heaped praise on the rise of Pathirana in the past 12 months.
“Matheesha Pathirana’s exploits in the IPL 2023 was commendable but his performance today has reiterated the skill upgrade he has made over the last 12 months,” Ashwin tweeted.