As Niroshan Dickwella and KL Rahul light up the ongoing Sri Lanka v India series, the tournament that spurred a roaring resurgence in their careers prepares for its sixth edition.
Red Bull Campus Cricket had come knocking for both batsmen when their cricketing lives had been at a crossroads. For Rahul, success in the 2013 tournament was a launchpad into the IPL after a long injury layoff. For Dickwella, the 2016 edition tournament proved an occasion to hone his burgeoning talent, and restore confidence to his game following almost two years adrift from Sri Lanka’s national squad. Having had an outstanding run in the Sri Lanka team in 2017, Dickwella will, in fact, return to Campus Cricket this year, where he will represent Sri Lanka’s Business Management school.
Featuring the best college talent from around the world, the Campus Cricket tournaments have been a wellspring of talent, with the likes of Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka and the UAE’s Chirag Suri – who earned an IPL contract this year – having played in previous tournaments.
And with Dickwella having now made himself a vital part of Sri Lanka’s limited-overs teams, tournament director Brendon Kuruppu – once a wicketkeeping opening-batsman himself – believes last years’ World Final came at the right time.
“Dickwella is a special case because he played for Sri Lanka, then he was dropped, and he was nowhere in the team,” Kuruppu said. “He played the local tournaments and got runs. He continued to get runs in the World Final, and from there he got selected to the Sri Lanka team again, and he has not looked back from that point onwards. He has been scoring runs throughout.”
Dickwella’s innovative batting style, replete with reverse-sweeps, over-the-shoulder scoops, and constant flitting around on the crease, were all on display during last year’s World Final, during his team’s march to the title. His 31 off 13 balls in the semi-final against University of Pretoria was especially memorable. Chasing 180 for victory, Dickwella’s opening salvo – which featured five fours and a six – quickly set the team on track to victory.
Having been a highly rated captain of his Trinity College school side, Campus Cricket was another opportunity for Dickwella to work on his leadership, as he captained the BMS side. Now, at the international level, Dickwella has already been touted as a possible future Sri Lanka captain by no less than Asanka Gurusinha – Sri Lanka’s cricket manager.
The Campus Cricket World Final will be played in Colombo and Galle between September 10 and 16. More future stars await discovery.
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