Sri Lanka all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga took last year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup by storm and played a major role in helping his side win the recent Asia Cup – and it was just the latest step in the rise of the island nation’s latest superstar.
Sri Lanka legend Mahela Jayawardena spoke about Hasaranga’s meteoric rise, shedding light on his early years and growing maturity while also drawing a link with another Sri Lankan great, Lasith Malinga.
Jayawardena sees quite a lot of similarities between Hasaranga and Malinga – both started off shy before blossoming into cornerstones of the Sri Lankan side.
“The way he has blossomed … he’s also from down south, quite close to where Lasith was (Galle) and they have similar mannerisms,” Jayawardena said the show The ICC Review.
“The way they both came out, they started their careers quietly – you know, sat in the corner of the dressing room – and little by little they grew. The hairstyles change, the tattoos came out and the whole thing.
“It (Hasaranga’s development) is quite similar to how Lasith became who Lasith was, and that’s how I see the way Wanindu has blossomed as a player,” he said.
The biggest similarity between the two is their fierce competitiveness, according to Jayawardena.
“The most important thing is, once they cross the field, like Lasith, he is a competitor – that’s what I love about him,” Jayawardena added.
Hasaranga has now become one of the premier all-rounders in the shortest format of the game. He has risen to No.3 in the ICC Men’s T20I Rankings for bowlers, and No.4 in the all-rounders’ T20I rankings.
And at only 25, the potential is limitless.
“He is still young and (there is) a lot of cricket in front of him. So long as he understands what needs to be done and be competitive out there, that’s the most important thing,” Jayawardena said.