Dilhara Fernandoindia Updated: Feb 06, 2003 13:18 IST
Dilhara Fernando, or Randi as he is commonly known, is a right arm fast bowler, who bowls with a powerful slingy action. He tends to move the ball into the batsmen and can generate real pace. On his day he is reckoned to be the fastest bowler in Sri Lanka.
Dilhara was born in Wattala on the 19 July 1979. He schooled at De Mazenod College, a Catholic school in Kandana. A well-built young man, he first love was basketball before he developed into a fast bowler and was picked for the Sri Lanka under- 19 team that toured India in 1997. He later played against the Australian Academy before sent to the Dennis Lillie run MRF Fast Bowlers clinic at Chennai in 1998. Since then he has played his club cricket for Sinhalese Sports Club.
He was picked to play against Zimbabwe A (April 2000) before making his Test debut at the Sinhalese Sports Club against Pakistan (June 2000). He was dropped after a modest performance, but returned for Sri Lanka's tour of South Africa, where he started with a five-wicket haul in the first Test in Durban. Generally, however, he proved wayward and often expensive until a dramatic improvement in 2001 when he trained hard under the close supervision of fast bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake in the BCCSL Fast Bowlers Academy.
A foot injury to Nuwan Zoysa gave him an opportunity with the new ball in the Coca-Cola Cup against India and New Zealand (July 2001) and he was a revelation. Greater accuracy had been added to his natural pace and he caused problems for all the batsmen. He then played in the Test series against India that followed and played a key role in Sri Lanka 10 wicket victory in the Galle Test, where he grabbed his second five-wicket haul in Test cricket in a dramatic second new ball burst during the Indian first innings.