Lasith Malinga, suffering from a knee problem, was missing from action at the Sinhalese Sports Club as India and Sri Lanka started their preparations for Monday’s second Test. However, Malinga’s round-arm action wasn’t altogether missed, thanks to his replacement, Nuwan Pradeep.
Ironically, Pradeep, the 23-year-old who spent the first 20 years of his life in Negombo, approximately 40 km north of Colombo, has a lot in common with Malinga.
Just like Malinga, who hailed from a village close to Galle, Pradeep is a small-town boy. Just like Malinga, Pradeep also has spent a better part of his life playing cricket with the softball. And most importantly, Pradeep, just like Malinga, knows how to bowl genuinely quick, that too with a round-arm action.
Though the young right-arm pacer is set to miss out on his Test debut at SSC, since Dilhara Fernando and Dammika Prasad are fighting for the slot vacated by Malinga, the constant questions Malinga posed will tempt the Sri Lankan management to include Pradeep in the XI.
And though Pradeep does not have a great first-class record — he has 43 wickets from 27 games at 35.02 runs apiece — he has impressed one and all with his pace during Sri Lanka A’s recent tour of Australia.
“He does not have any cricketing background. He never played with a cricket ball till three years ago,” Ranjit Fernando, Sri Lankan national selector, who was the coach of the A team that toured Australia, said on Saturday. “He came from a fast bowling competition about three years ago. He was the fastest bowler in the competition.”
“He bowled in Australia. There were no speed guns, but to me he bowled quicker than all the Australian bowlers. Being a slinger, he doesn’t have much bounce,” added Fernando. “But I feel he is someone to watch out for. He bowls between 140-145 kmph. He is quick, you can see it.
“Someone like him keeps on coming at you all the time, so is hard to negotiate on such wickets. He is also very accurate.”
If Pradeep is preferred over Fernando and Prasad, Sri Lanka may not really miss Malinga too much at the Sinhalese Sports Club.