There was plenty of chatter about the quality of Sri Lanka’s captain Dunith Wellalage prior to the tournament. And the opening two games have done little to disprove the hype surrounding the 19-year-old from Colombo.
The left-arm spinner’s five-wicket haul against Scotland in Sri Lanka’s opening victory of the tournament was impressive, but he stepped it up a level to outclass Australia in Basseterre.
The Aussies looked well-placed at 107/3 and with opener Campbell Kellaway at the crease with a half-century to his name. But Wellalage’s second spell saw him rip out three of Australia’s top seven in the space of just eight balls, including the dangerous Kellaway, to turn the match on its head.
And not content with one match-defining spell, Wellalage returned again to deny Australia a big finish, taking two wickets in the penultimate over to bag his second five-wicket haul of the tournament, 5/28.
Not content with being the standout bowler on show, Sri Lanka skipper Wellalage top-scored in the run-chase from number five after his side’s top four had all fallen cheaply.
Sri Lanka lost three for nine runs in an extremely nervy six-over stretch to leave them needing something special from their middle order with 126 runs still required to win.
But Wellalage was more than up to the task, forming impressive partnerships with first Anjala Bandara and then Ranuda Somarathna to put Sri Lanka in complete control of the game.
The left-hander’s 52 off 71 balls took his side to the brink of victory, with his dismissal coming with just five runs still required, and the only sour note of the game for him personally was to not be out in the middle when the winning runs were scored.
Australia didn’t have much to shout about in a disappointing overall showing, but opening bowler Tom Whitney again showed his great potential with a decent return.
The floppy-haired right-arm quick followed up his 3/20 in the opening game with another lively ten overs, clean bowling Sadisha Rajapaksa in a wicket maiden and going for just three runs in a three-over spell that put huge pressure on the Sri Lanka top order.
His figures of 2/39 off ten overs don’t reflect the quality of his bowling, and Scotland will have their work cut out keeping him at bay in their final group game at the Conaree Cricket Centre on Wednesday.