Anura Tennekoon, in the Sunday Island, 17 September 2022, where the title runs thus: “Bhanuka Rajapakse – an innings worthy of emulation” … and where the highlights here are interventions of The Editor, Thuppahi
The innings of Bhanuka Rajapakse in the Asia Cup 2022 final needs to be highlighted as it was a well crafted effort.Having been asked to bat first by the Pakistan captain, the Sri Lankan batting was reeling with five wickets down for 58 runs. Most thought the match was in the bag for Pakistan, but Bhanuka had different ideas. He set about rebuilding the Sri Lankan innings in association with Wanindu Hasaranga who played some incredible shots against a high quality bowling attack. Wanidu’s approach was to counter attack with aggression which put the Pakistan bowling immediately under pressure.
Meanwhile, Bhanuka suppressing his attacking instincts played risk free strokes in supporting Wanidu to establish an extremely useful partnership of 58 runs at a brisk rate. On Wanidu being dismissed, Bhanuka took over the role of aggressor scattering the bowling to all areas of the park with well timed hits finding gaps in the field.
He even deftly steered the ball through the vacant slip areas for the spinners, which is not easy to execute. The boundaries he scored off Naseem Shah, the main pace bowler for Pakistan in the final over definitely shifted the momentum in Sri Lanka’s favour. The handy partnership of 54 runs with Karunaratne towards the end of the innings enabled Sri Lanka to post a defendable total of 170 runs.
Bhanukas batting was well complemented by the intelligent bowling and outstanding fielding of the team which throttled the Pakistan batsmen, who succumbed to score 147 runs, giving the Sri Lanka team victory by 23 runs. This is a comprehensive margin to win by in the context of a T20 game.
Whilst acknowledging the great team effort by the Sri Lankan players to win this tournament, I feel Bhanuka’s remarkable batting effort made the big difference in winning the final. Well played lads, you won this tournament by playing smart cricket, which if persisted with will bring more success in the future.
A NOTE from Michael Roberts
For the benefit of younger generations let me stress that the Thomian Anura Tennekoon was an exemplary batsman who played for Ceylon/Sri Lanka in the 1960s and 1970s and captained the side during the initial engagements at the highest level in UK in 1975 and 1979. Any praise from his pen is praise indeed.