His name is Akila Dananjaya. He is supposed to be an offspinner but his nimble fingers can do what they want to the ball. One minute in 2012, he was bowling in the nets, the next he was fast-tracked into the Sri Lanka team by no less a spotter of talent than Mahela Jayawardene, in a World T20 to boot. If that isn’t enough drama, on debut, he struck in his first over, and then got hit in the face by a cricket ball. If his career had ended then, he would still have felt it was a roller-coaster.
Then came August 24, 2017. And even if it ended with victory for India by three wickets, he would never forget this rain-hit night.
Twenty-three years old now, a day after getting married, Dananjaya took 6 for 54 and had one of the world’s mightiest batting line-ups looking at him like he was a ghost. Virat Kohli was bowled for 4, deceived in the manner he might have once been playing backyard cricket while still a child. He cast a dumbstruck look at the pitch as he walked off but the demon wasn’t there. He was 22 yards away, smiling and whooping and dancing with a bunch of men who had put only 236 runs on the board, but felt they were on their way to defending it.