Dilhara Lokuhettige, an exciting new allrounder for Sri Lanka, was a cricketer picked out of obscurity.india Updated: Oct 23, 2006 18:05 IST
Dilhara Lokuhettige, an exciting new allrounder for Sri Lanka, was a cricketer picked out of obscurity. There was general surprise when he was named in the Sri Lankan one-day squad for the Indian Oil Cup in 2005 after modest performances on the domestic circuit.
But Lokuhettige had made an immediate impact after winning a place in the A team, scoring 57 and 22 not out and capturing three wickets to help Sri Lanka A beat West Indies A in an unofficial Test series just before the Indian Oil Cup. As a schoolboy, he'd been a keen player for Asoka Vidyalaya in Colombo, captaining the teams from the under-13 age group up to the First XI.
He got his first major break towards earning a national cap when he joined Bloomfield in 1999 and met Ruchira Palliyaguru, the club's fast bowler, who recommended him to the Sri Lanka Cricket Fast Bowling Academy. There he came under the watchful eyes of Champaka Ramanayake, the head of the academy. Lokuhettige played one season for Antonians SC and then joined Galle CC where Ramanayake was also the coach.
It was here that he recorded his best first-class bowling figures, taking eight wickets against NCC in 2002-03. He is not express in pace, but is accurate and can swing the ball both ways. He is a hard-hitting batsmen too, with his favourite stroke being the lofted drive.