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The year Chandimal won the title

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2009, Dinesh Chandimal has turned out to be the hope for the future, especially at a time Sri Lanka is desperately trying to fill the vacuum created in the national team after the retirements of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.

Sri Lanka team, currently touring England, were in deep trouble last week in the second Test at Chester-Le-Street. Having lost the first Test by an innings inside three days, Sri Lanka were heading for another humiliating innings defeat. In reply to England's first innings total of 498 for 9 declared, Sri Lanka were shot out for 101 and were forced to follow on Trailing by 397 runs on first innings, England were well set for another innings victory as Sri Lanka were reeling at 182 for 4 in their second innings when Chandimal walked in to join his captain Angelo Mathews. England were still hopeful of sailing through without batting for the second time as Mathews departed with the Lankan total reading at 222 for 5, still needing 176 runs to avert innings defeat It was then that Chandimal emerged as a shining star with his fighting qualities. His blistering century in the second innings - 126 off 207 balls with one six and 13 fours, once again proved his credentials as a reliable batsman. True that England eventually won the game but it was Chandimal's brave innings that enabled Sri Lanka to make a respectable 475 all out in the second innings. It made sure that England would bat in the second innings and Chandimal's great knock was one of the many exemplary innings played by this stylish stroke maker.


Dinesh Chandimal receives his award from chief guest Sidath Wettimuny in 2009. Former Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge and former SLC President D.S.de Silva(right) are also in the picture.

Ananda College has made it a habit of producing Sri Lanka star cricketers since the then captain Arjuna Ranatunga made it to the national team for Sri Lanka's first ever Test in 1982. There is no exception in Ananda producing many award winners at the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year awards show since 1979.

In fact, Chandimal was the seventh Anandian to win the coveted Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title after Arjuna Ranatunga, (1980 and 1982), his younger brother Sanjeewa Ranatunga (1988), former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu (1990), former Sri Lanka player Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995), Muthumudalige Pushpakumara (1999) and Malith Gunathileke (2007). Undoubtedly, it was another champion in the making when Chandimal received the prestigious Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 2009 from former Sri Lanka opener Sidat Wettimuny. That is the moment which any schoolboy cricketer would ever dream of and there was no exception in Chandimal's case. "I thought if I win the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer award, I would definitely be selected to the Sri Lanka national squad in future. Going through the history of past school cricketers, who had won this top award, it was evident that most of them have represented Sri Lanka with distinction,"Chandimal was quoted as saying a couple of years ago.

Chandimal had his basics to the willow game at Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda but his entry to Ananda College opened new horizons for the budding cricketer who had rated the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year awards show as the best competition which gives the country's young cricketers great enthusiasm and inspiration Chandimal, who had led the Sri Lanka T20 team to the ICC World Cup and functioned as the Vice-captain to Mathews in the Test squad, is a technically sound batsman who is capable of hitting the ball to all corners of a ground. The maturity he shows at the crease and his temperament to build an innings is an example and inspiration to youngsters and emerging players. Chandimal is the only Lankan batsman to make a century during their current tour of England so far. Besides skipper Mathews, Chandimal is the only batsman in the current tour party who has scored a century on English soil.

Winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolby Cricketer title took Chandimal's cricket career to a new elevation. Moths after holding aloft that glittering trophy, Chandimal made his Sri Lanka debut, playing in the ICC T20 World Cup tournament in the Caribbean Islands. He made a quick fire 29 off 23 balls in his T20I debut against New Zealand in Guyana on April 30, 2010 . He made his One Day International debut exactly one month later - against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on June 1, 2010. Chandimal made a dream Test debut for Sri Lanka, scoring twin half centuries in the Boxing Day Test against South Africa in Durban in December

2011. He scored a polished 58 off 86 balls with seven boundaries in the first innings and followed it with an equally clever innings of 54 made off 92 balls with seven fours. It ultimately turned out to be a memorable Test debut for Chandimal as Sri Lanka won the second Test at Kingsmead by 208 runs.

The 28-year-old reliable middle order batsman is well set to complete the memorable milestone of 2,000 runs in Sri Lanka's third Test against England which starts at Lord's tomorrow (9). He has so far aggregated 1,988 runs in 27 Tests at an attractive average if 45.1g with six centuries and 10 fifties. Representing Sri Lanka in 107 ODIs, Chandimal has aggregated 2,427 runs inclusive of two centuries and 15 half 'tons'. We could hear more about Chandimal in the years to come.

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