Mahinda’s long wait ended by Denuwan and Rumesh

Sri Lanka Under-19 players

Beginning today, we will feature the members of the Sri Lanka Under-19 team who are currently in New Zealand for the ICC Youth World Cup. The 15 member team took wing to Christchurch early Friday.

by Reemus Fernando

Wicket keeper batsman Denuwan Rajakaruna and all rounder Rumesh Buddhika have ended a long drought of Mahinda College players in Sri Lanka Under-19 teams. Not a single player from Mahinda College, Galle, represented a Sri Lanka Under-19 team for the last two hand half decades.

After Mihira Egodage (1981) and Dileepa Wickramasinghe (1984) represented Sri Lanka Under-19 teams, not a single player from that school could find a place in a Sri Lanka youth team.

Denuwan Rajakaruna

Lovingly called ‘Kaluwa’ for his wicket keeping skills rather than for his dark complexion, Denuwan Rajakaruna got his break when Sri Lanka Under-19 toured Australia last October. Rajakaruna first made his mark as a fine wicket keeper when he accounted for eight victims in a single innings in an Under-17 Division I tournament match against Mahanama College, Colombo, in 2007. But by the time that tournament reached its final, he showed that he was equally good in the batting department as well. A fighting century by Rajakaruna was the highlight for Mahinda in the final against St. Peter’s as they won a nail-biter. Probably, there wouldn’t have been a better innings from this youngster to impress selectors to mark him as a future prospect for Sri Lanka Under-19. Rajakaruna is the standby wicketkeeper to Andri Berenger, but the selectors have fielded both at the same time in past Under-19 matches for their batting abilities.

Rumesh Buddika

A good all rounder, Rumesh Buddika was the captain of the Mahinda College First XI team last season and has also captained their junior teams. He adds muscle to Sri Lanka’s top order and occasionally bowls spinners as well. From the time he was called up to the Sri Lanka Under-19 team, he has contributed to the team’s success. His century against South Africa in the recently concluded tri-nation tournament in South Africa is the highlight in his short span with Sri Lanka Under-19.

His 139 runs in 137 balls (18x4s) in that match was Sri Lanka’s only victory in the tournament and it is the second highest individual score by a Sri Lanka Under-19 player ever.

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