Dilshan beats odds to play for St. Servatius’ with one hand


by Reemus Fernando

Young Chanuka Dilshan, a cricketer from St. Servatius’ College, Matara met with a road accident on March 1st 2011. His right hand was smothered in the road mishap and his hopes of playing the first Big Match were shattered. The next three months, he spent in hospital. At the time of discharging from the hospital, he had a numb right hand and a very sensitive skin on the palm which nearly put his future as a cricketer in jeopardy. But this diehard youngster’s passion for cricket was so much, that officials could not confine him to bench when he was still nursing injuries.

Two years on, Dilshan has beaten odds to become a vital member in the First XI team of St. Servatius’ in the ongoing Under-19 cricket tournament and that is all by using only his left hand as conditions of his right hand remain almost the same.

Dilshan, with his right hand in a protective glove, featured in the St. Servatius’ First XI team’s matches against Isipatana and Lumbini in Colombo during the last two weeks.

Incidentally, the left-arm spinner is the leading wicket taker of St. Servatius’ team after two matches. He was the pick of the bowlers in the match against Lumbini where he had a five wicket haul in the first innings.

Dilshan avoids using the right hand as much as possible when fielding but the team seem to have high regard for his agility in the field as he is often positioned in the covers region.

In the batting department he plays down the order and makes sure that he avoids getting his right hand make a direct contact with the ball.

"Except in bating I don’t find any difficulty playing with one hand," said Dilshan in an interview with The Island on the sidelines of the match against Lumbini last week.

Dilshan’s passion for cricket

Soon after joining St. Servatius’ from Sariputta Vidyalaya, Dilshan’s talent for spin bowling forced First XI coach Pradeep Nishantha to predict that Dilshan would have a place in the Big Match team though he was still 14 years of age in 2011. But the near fatal injury prevented Dilshan from playing the Big Match in 2011.

Nishantha recalls: "Unlike many who would easily give up in such circumstances, Dilshan did not. Although it looked impossible to play him, he came for training and trained by himself. He had such a passion for cricket I could not keep him out. He was willing to play. I gave him an opportunity in an Under-17 match against Prince of Wales. He nearly stunned us. He took four wickets including the wicket of Kusal Mendis (current Sri Lanka Under-19 captain) in his return and also took a high catch with one hand."

Dilshan could not play the 2012 Big Match as well as he had to undergo a surgery during the time of the Big Match.

Current Under-19 season is the first full season for Dilshan and probably he would be able to achieve his dream of playing the Big Match in March. But the Master in Charge of Cricket at St. Servatius’ insists the importance of Dilshan’s full recovery and the odds the underprivileged cricketer has to beat.

"He is from an under privileged family. He needs assistance to recover fully. A plastic surgery is needed if he is to fully recover. The old boys have given support to Dilshan and he needs further support to fully recover," Nayanananda de Silva, the MiC of St. Servatiu’s said last week.

According to former coach Nishantha, Dilshan is the best left arm spinner of his age in Matara and he would be an asset to any team he is playing for. "He has a future as a spinner. What he needs is a speedy recovery," said Nishantha who also thanked former St. Servatious player Ruchira Palliyaguru for assisting the youngster.

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