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Dinesh Chandimal receives OBSERVER – MOBITEL Most Popular Award 2009

The year 2009 was a memorable year for young Dinesh Chandimal, the current Sri Lanka Test vice-captain, and Twenty20 captain, who led Ananda College in the ‘Big Match’ - the ‘Battle of the Maroons’ encounter against Nalanda College. The elegant right-hander went onto clinch the prestigious Sunday Observer Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer Award in the same year after a successful school career in 2009.


Dinesh Chandimal receives the Sunday Observer Schoolboy Cricketer Award at the gala ceremony held at BMICH in 2009. Here from left Ashantha de Mel (then Selection Committee Chairman), ANCL Chairman Bandula Padmakumara, Sidath Wettimuny (former Test cricketer), Leisha de Silva (then Sri Lanka Telecom-Mobitel Chairperson), Gamini Lokuge (then Sports Minister) and D.S. de Silva (then SLC Chairman).

Chandimal earned the Sri Lanka ‘cap’ in an ODI on June 1, 2010 against Zimbabwe, where he scored an unbeaten run-a-ball 10 when Sri Lanka won by nine wickets after chasing 119 runs. On July 3, 2011, young Chandimal was praised by cricket commentators for his elusive ODI hundred against England at home of cricket – Lord’s when he helped Sri Lanka to win the third ODI by six wickets to lead the series 2-1. Two years after winning the country’s prestigious award for a schoolboy cricketer, Chandimal made his Test debut in Sri Lanka’s historic Test win at Durban, where the islanders beat South Africans for the first time in a Test on Proteas’ soil. “ I thought if I win the Sunday Observer Schoolboy Cricketer Award I would definitely be selected to the Sri Lanka national squad one day. Going through the history of past school cricketers, who had won the Sunday Observer Award, it was evident that most of them have represented Sri Lanka with distinction,” said Dinesh Chandimal, who made Test debut in 2011 at Durban.

Twin fifties in victorious debut

Under the leadership of energetic opening batsman and brilliant fielder Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chandimal made twin fifties in his dream debut in 2011 in the “Boxing Day Test” at Durban against South Africa. Batting first, Sri Lanka were struggling with five down for 162 at one stage, and the 21-year-old Chandimal was given a chance to bat at number seven and he proved his mettle as regular wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene was not included due to an injury and replaced Kaushal Silva failed to score in the First Test. Dinesh Chandimal, who loves to play cuts and pulls with accurate timing and placement, joined Thilan Samaraweera (scored a century) in the fast and bouncy Durban track and saved Sri Lanka’s blushes by getting the Lankan innings towards 273 for 6 when he got out for 58, after sharing a 101-run partnership for the sixth wicket. Eventually Sri Lanka made a commanding 338 in the first innings. Chandimal had to restore the Lankan second innings again as the tourists were struggling, losing five wickets for 141. This time Sri Lanka’s potential youngster joined Kumar Sangakkara at the wicket (Sangakkara made his first Test century in South Africa) to put on a 108-run stand for the sixth wicket and Sri Lanka set a 450-run target for the Proteas and the islanders recorded an emphatic 208-run win.

Sri Lanka’s youngest Twenty20 captain

Chandimal became Sri Lanka’s youngest Twenty20 captain (23 years and 253 days) when he led Sri Lanka against Bangladesh on March 31, this year at Pallekele, where Sri Lanka won by 17 runs. The wicket-keeper batsman has been inspired by one of Sri Lanka’s pinch hitting wicket-keeper batsmen, Romesh Kaluwitharana. Kaluwitharana had claimed 75 victims by stumpings during his illustrious 189 One-Day International career, the highest number of stumpings by any wicket-keeper in ODIs then.

“During my schooldays, I loved to see Kaluwitharana motivating the team behind the wickets. He was my role model and I was dreaming one day to become an agile wicket-keeper like ‘Kalu’ in the Lankan outfit,” he said. In 2012, Dinesh Chandimal bagged the ICC Emerging Player Award, awarded to the emerging young talent annually by the world cricketing body. Chandimal has represented Sri Lanka in seven Tests with an average of 58.30 with two centuries and four half ‘tons’. In 53 ODIs he has scored 1,367 runs at an average of 33.34 with two centuries and nine fifties.

 

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