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Nuwan Thushara, the only positive in Sri Lanka's sinking ship

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Last updated on 17 Jun 2024 | 06:49 AM
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Nuwan Thushara, the only positive in Sri Lanka's sinking ship

The 29-year-old was the highest wicket-taker for Sri Lanka in the 2024 T20 World Cup, picking 8 wickets at 7.5 runs apiece

Sri Lanka ended their 2024 T20 World Cup campaign with an 83-run win over the Netherlands on Sunday evening (June 16) in Gros Islet. It has been a forgettable campaign for the Island nation. They were among the first few teams to be knocked out in the group stage, losing to South Africa and Bangladesh in consecutive matches. 

In the build-up of their final league game against the Dutch, veteran player Angelo Mathews had said, “We've let the entire nation down.”

Before bowing out, Sri Lanka made a mark in their win over the Netherlands. After low scores of 77 against South Africa and 124 against Bangladesh, their batters took the opportunity of a good wicket in St Lucia. 46 each from Kusal Mendis (29 balls) and Charitha Asalanka (21 balls) helped them deliver one good batting performance with a total of 201. 

With the ball, they bundled the Netherlands out for only 118. Nuwan Thushara snapped 3/24 in 3.4 overs. He has been Sri Lanka's biggest positive in a dismal campaign. 

Thushara ended his World Cup as the highest wicket-taker for Sri Lanka, pouching eight wickets with unbelievable numbers — average 7.5, economy 5.6. He also picked 4/18 in the lost cause against Bangladesh. 

One of those Malinga prototypes popping out of Sri Lanka, Thushara has been most effective in the powerplay and death overs, picking four wickets each in these two vital phases for fast bowlers. In both phases, his economy has been under 6 runs per over. 

The 29-year-old stuck to a method to stay afloat in Sri Lanka’s sinking ship. The good length has been extremely fruitful in this bowler’s friendly World Cup thus far. Thushara pitched nearly 30% of his deliveries in that zone. He also pitched the ball in line with the stumps, thus making the batters play on pitches with uncertain bounce. His slingy action adds to the task of the batters anyways. 

Michael Levitt took the Dutch off to the perfect start in a run chase of 202. After four overs, Netherlands were 44/0 with Levitt striking 30 from 18 deliveries. Thushara, continuing to be effective with the new ball, broke the opening stand in his second over, sending back the other opener Max ODowd. 

That began the domino effect on the Dutch’s run chase with one wicket falling after the other. When the Netherlands were striking blows in the powerplay, Thushara came out unscathed with a two-over spell of 1/12 and opened the gates for Sri Lanka. Wanindu Hasaranga and Matheesha Pathirana ran through the Dutch middle order. Thushara returned for his second spell, dismissing the skipper Scott Edwards and the number 10, Paul van Meekeren. 

In 11 T20Is, the right-armer now has 19 wickets at an economy of 7.95. Having tasted success in IPL 2024 and then the World Cup afterward, Thushara is going from strength to strength. Batting continues to be Sri Lanka’s weaker suit but Thushara is another addition to their growing pool of promising bowlers. 

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