'Next time we face Wellalage...': Rahul throws open challenge for Sri Lanka star | Crickit
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'Next time we face Wellalage...': Rahul throws open challenge for Sri Lanka spinner after his five wickets vs India

Sep 14, 2023 06:50 AM IST

Rahul said the Indian batters would like to "go after" Wellalage and not let him settle into a rhythm the like he did in the Super 4 game on Tuesday in Colombo.

India wicketkeeper-batter KL Rahul promised a different approach the next time they come up against Sri Lanka spinner Dunith Wellalage. Throwing an open challenge to the young left-arm spinner, Rahul said the Indian batters would like to "go after" Wellalage and not let him settle into a rhythm the like he did in the Super 4 game on Tuesday in Colombo. With a slow and tacky Premadasa surface to his aide, Wellalage produced one of his best performances with the ball to put India's famed batting unit on the mat.

KL Rahul threw an open challenge to Dunith Wellalage
KL Rahul threw an open challenge to Dunith Wellalage

The 20-year-old picked up the wickets of Shubman Gill (19), Rohit Sharma (53), Virat Kohli (3), Rahul (39), and Hardik Pandya (5) to return with career-best figures of 5/40 in ODIs. "He was spot on He got five wickets He did the job for his team. He looked the most dangerous bowler in Sri Lanka's attack till I was playing. What more can I say? He got five top-order batsmen out. It was a good day for him, he did well with the bat too," Rahul told reporters after the match, which India won by 41 runs to advance to the Asia Cup final.

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What made Wellalage's performance even special was the fact that he challenged both edges of the right-handers. He got started off by bamboozling Gill with a delivery that pitched on the middle and turned to hit the top of the off stump. The left-arm spinner then got Kohli out with one that stopped on the surface, inducing a false shot from the India great. The one that foxed Rohit was an arm ball that went on with the arm and cannoned into the Indian captain's stumps.

In his second spell, Welllage got another big wicket of Rahul. The centurion of the last match was looking well set when he chipped one straight back to the bowler. Wellelage completed his maiden five-wicket haul with another beauty to Hardik that drew him forward, gripped and turned to get the outside edge.

Also Read | Who is Dunith Wellalage? The conqueror of Kohli, Rohit in IND vs SL at Asia Cup

Wellelage's superb show with the ball meant India were bowled out for only 213 in 49.1 overs and this after they had raced to 80 in just 11 overs.

The left-arm spinner, however, might face a different Indian team the next time. "The next time we play, we will go after him," Rahul added. The opportunity might come soon if Sri Lanka manage to beat Pakistan in their last Super 4 and book a final with India on Sunday.

Wellalage wasn't done for the day. After his stellar show with the ball, he nearly took Sri Lanka home with the bat. The left-hander scored an unbeaten 42 off 46 balls. If he hadn't run out of partners, the result could well have been different.

How Rahul tacked Sri Lanka spinners

Rahul, who looked the best of the Indian batters against the Sri Lanka spinners, revealed how he tackled the tough conditions on offer.

"After playing the first few balls I tried to figure out what are the shots that I can play here. You can into your shell, defend and try and defuse the threat but I thought I would try and play my shots but be careful about what shots to choose against which bowler. That is sort of an on-the-go decision you make. I'm glad the shot selections I made till the point I got worked well. Maybe next time it might be a bit different. Yesterday was different. We were able to play more shots, but today was different. As a batter, you try and assess the situation and conditions and decide what shots you can play," said the experienced right-hander who has made a strong comeback to the Indian side after missing a lot of matches due to an injury.

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