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    Dinesh Chandimal was never made to be dropped

    June 30, 2019

    Former Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal is one of the many Sri Lanka star cricketers produced by Ananda College, Colombo which has been a breeding ground for outstanding young cricketers. The galaxy of the Sri Lanka national players produced by Ananda is headed by Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga. In fact, out of the 40 Observer Schoolboy Cricketers of the Year main award winners, Ananda has a greater portion with nine winners. Last of those nine Anandians to win the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year was Chandimal in 2009.

    Incidentally, Ranatunga is also a proud recipient of the prestigious Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award, having won the title twice in 1980 and 1982. Beside Ranatunga and Chandimal, among the other notable Anandians who had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title are former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu (1990), former Sri Lanka cricketers Sanjeewa Ranatunga (1988), Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995) and Muthumudalige Pushpakumara (1999). But Ranatunga and Samaraweera remain the only Anandians to win the Mega Crown twice each.
    Chandimal is one of the most experienced and technically sound batsman to win the prestigious Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title when he was representing Ananda College, Colombo exactly ten years ago. Twenty-nine year-old Chandimal has represented Sri Lanka in 53 Tests aggregating 3768 runs with an attractive average of 41.86 cracking 11 centuries and 17 fifties that included a career best knock of 164.
    In 146 ODIs, Chandimal has aggregated 3599 runs with an average of 32.42. He has scored four ODI centuries and 22 fifties with a career best knock of 111. Following the footsteps of most other past recipients of the prestigious title, Chandimal made his Sri Lanka debut just months after he was crowned the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2009. He did not get an opportunity for a long innings - made an unbeaten 10 on his ODI debut for Sri Lanka against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on June 1, 2010, when the visitors secured a nine-wicket victory.
    Chandimal was one of the most technically accomplished batsmen to serve in the Sri Lanka team who is capable of hitting the ball to all corners of the ground with a wide range strokes. Ever since his Sri Lanka debut, he has shown maturity at the crease with good temperament to build and pace an innings. Unfortunately, Chandimal was one of the biggest names to have missed out as he was omitted from Sri Lanka’s current World Cup squad for England on the pretext of lacking big scores.
    The omission of Chandimal from the current Sri Lanka team for the World Cup was highly criticized by many, including Ranatunga. Although Chandimal deserved a place at least in the tour squad, the national selectors had other ideas due to his poor form. He has aggregated just 863 runs in 27 matches across the three formats since 2018 at an average of 31.96 with just one hundred and three fifties. He had scored 3033 runs in 108 innings at an average of 34.46 till the end of 2016. All his four ODI hundreds and 20 of his 22 fifties came in that period. But post-2017 Chamdimal’s numbers and fortunes have dwindled. He has scored just 566 runs in 24 innings at a paltry average of 24.6 and strike rate of 66.35, including just two fifties within this time-frame. Among the nine Sri Lankan batsmen who have scored at least 500 runs during this period, Chandimal’s batting average is the second-lowest and marginally higher than bottom-ranked Kusal Mendis (24.58).Chandimal’s overall numbers in Test cricket are better than his exploits in ODIs – 3768 runs in 97 innings at an average of 41.86 including 11 hundreds. But his recent form has been poor with as many as six single-digit scores in his last 10 Test innings. handimal was also dropped from the Sri Lanka team even before the World Cup as he was overlooked for the Lankan teams’s tour to South Africa – which was their last international assignment prior tour the world extravaganza. Nevertheless, Chandimal is capable of bouncing back and regaining his place after the World Cup.
    “I thought if I win the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer award, I would definitely be selected to the Sri Lanka national squad in the future. Going through the history of past school cricketers, who had won this top award, it was evident that most of them have represented Sri Lanka with distinction,” Chandimal was quoted as saying.
    Meanwhile, the 41th edition of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest is scheduled to be held later next month. Incidentally, this will be the 12th consecutive year that SLT Mobitel will be sponsoring the Mega Show. Winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title has been the dream of every schoolboy cricketer as they generally believe that the prestigious title would take them closer to sporting the Sri Lanka ‘cap’. Most past winners of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title had made their Sri Lanka debut in double quick time.
    SLT Mobitel has played a key role in the promotion of the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year during the past 12 years. It is all thanks to the untiring efforts of Sri Lanka Telecom Chairman Kumarasinghe Sirisena and SLT Mobitel Chief Executive Officer Nalin Perera who has played a dynamic role in promoting school cricket in a big way. The dynamic vision of Chairman of Lake House, Krishantha Cooray has always helped this event to go from strength to strength.

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