Sri Lankan right-arm fast-medium bowler Nuwan Kulasekara has announced his retirement from International Cricket.
Nuwan Kulasekara, a skinny lad, first made an impression on his ODI debut against England at Dambulla in 2003 at the age of 21, when he picked up 2/19 against England. With no great performances behind him, his selection for that match against England was a surprise, but he more than justified his inclusion with a superb performance. The talent and potential were there for all to see even then.
Kulasekara has often played some late-order cameos in the shorter format of the game and employs a daring approach with the willow at the crease. It is his lovely silken swing bowling, with a pronounced inducker which zoots in at the last moment, that took him to No.1 position in ODI rankings.
Kulasekara’s mastery of swing and nagging accuracy landed him a place in the prestigious 2009 ICC World ODI team of the year. Whilst Malinga’s thunderbolt yorkers stun the opposition at the death, it is Kulasekara’s customary early breakthroughs that set the tone.
Though his bowling was far from best in the 2011 World Cup, he shone with the bat, coming in ahead of the more recognised Thisara Perera to add 66 runs with Mahela Jayawardene for the 6th wicket at a break-neck speed to lift Sri Lanka to 274 in the final against India, which eventually proved insufficient. In the same year, Indian T20 League heavyweights, Chennai, dished out $100,000 to get the pacer on board.
While several bowlers of the fast-medium breed have been tonked around in T20 cricket, Kulasekara has held his own. He sent down the most economical spell (2-2-0-1) in T20Is when Sri Lanka routed Netherlands in the World T20 2014, which was eventually clinched by the Islanders.
But with age, he lost a bit of pace and the extra zip he used to get. The post-2015 World Cup phase in particular was a tough one for him. Involved in a personal tragedy in the form of a car accident, his inconsistency with his bowling meant he no longer was a certainty in the eleven. He figured it out soon and announced his retirement from Tests – a format he had never quite made his footing in. But in the limited overs format, he still continues to remain an integral part of the setup. In the rebuilding phase that Sri Lanka is going through at the moment, his form and experience in wading the side through these testing times would be crucial.