How many cricketers can say they have dismissed Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, and Hardik Pandya in the same match? None except Dunith Wellalage. The Sri Lanka all-rounder not only dismissed five of India’s top seven but also became the first spinner in the world to take the first four wickets of the match against India in an ODI. The 20-year-old’s career-best 5/40 helped Sri Lanka bowl India out for 213 in the Asia Cup Super 4 match in Colombo. That was not it, Wellalage took a brilliant catch standing short cover to send back Ishan Kishan off Charith Asalanka’s bowling. There’s more. The left-hander then hit an unbeaten 42 off 46 balls with the bat during Sri Lanka’s chase. Wellalage’s outstanding all-round display, however, was not enough to win Sri Lanka the match.
The one-man show took the defending champions close but India had too much firepower as a team. They won the match by 42 runs to enter the Asia Cup final. But such was the performance of the left-arm spinner, who is also a handy left-handed batter, he was awarded Player of the Match despite being on the losing side – a rare thing in cricket.
Wellalage got the wickets of Gill, Kohli, Rohit with different deliveries. Gill got one that turned past his bat. Kohli was sucked early into the backfoot punch and ended up giving a simple catch to mid-wicket. Rohit, on the other hand, was done by the arm-ball that rattled his stumps.
In his second spell, he accounted for a well-set Rahul and then got Hardik Pandya caught behind with a delivery that would make any left-arm spinner proud.
So, among the wickets of Rohit, Gill, Kohli, Rahul and Hardik, which one was his favourite? Wellalage did not give a direct answer but referred Kohli as the No.1 batter. “Virat Kohli is the No.1 batter in the world. We planned for him,” he said in the post-match press conference.
The youngster also reserved high praise for Kuldeep Yadav, who picked up four wickets to help India defend 213. “First of all I want to congratulate the Indian team. They have so many experienced players but unfortunately, we lost the game but we have another game and we want to put up a good fight. Kuldeep is a great bowler, I tried to play my normal game with a positive mindset. I want to thank my teammates and my coaching staff – they gave me great support,” Dunith Wellalage said in a post-match presentation.