First and foremost, I’d like to mention that I’m not about to reveal all the secrets behind the mystery of 24-year-old Akila Dananjaya. Just like you, Aiden Markram and a million others, I too have no clue whatsoever.
Akila Dananjaya bamboozled South Africa in the 5th One Day International, picking 6 for 29 and followed it up with an impressive 2 for 15 in the only Twenty20 at the R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo. He finished with 14 wickets, 8 more than Kagiso Rabada who occupies the 8th position in ICC ODI Rankings for bowlers.
He made prominent gains, lifting him 22 places to a career-best 21st position in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Player Rankings after the ODIs.
Daanajaya has quite a few variations up his sleeve, including the leg-spinner, googly, the doosra and the stock off-spinner. However, his surprise delivery is the wrong un that is known to have deceived even the best batsmen in the world. With this delivery, he picked 6 for 54 against India including the wicket of Virat Kohli.
What is the Wrong Un?
For a traditional leg-spinner, the googly is often referred to as a wrong un. In other words, a wrong un is when a leg spinner bowls an offbreak rather than a leg break with the same action. But for a traditional offspinner, a wrong is more often a doosra.
For a better understanding, closely observe Shane Warne’s googly and Muttiah Muralitharan’s unplayable doosra.
The mysterious debut
Like his variations, his debut is also a mystery. At the age of 17, Dananjaya was a tier-three school cricketer for Mahanama Vidyalaya. He lived in Moratuwa and his family made a living from carpentry.
Dananjaya was called up for a net session with the national cricket team in 2011. Mahela Jayawardena, inspired by the teenager’s variations, fast-tracked him into the national team.
He made his debut for Sri Lanka with no prior First Class, List A or T20 experience.
With great power comes great responsibility
The 24-year-old has played a clinical role for Sri Lanka in limited overs cricket. He is likely to replace Rangana Herath who will announce his retirement from Test Cricket after the home series against England later this year.
Mystery spinners often tend to fade away after an initial outburst, but Dananjaya has bigger plans up his sleeve.
“I got most of my recent caught-and-bowled wickets with the googly, and I’ve got a lot of wickets with the legbreak as well. In this series, I’ve also been trying to turn the legbreak as much as I can. The googly and the legbreak need to get better, so I’ll keep working on those,” he said after the T20 against South Africa.
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