Sri Lankan batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who is representing the Punjab Kings (PBKS) in IPL 2022, has stated that he withdrew his retirement from international cricket as he was urged to do so by the country’s cricket board.
In a shocking move, the 30-year-old announced his retirement from international cricket at the start of the year, citing family obligations. However, just a few days later, he changed his mind over his decision to quit and asserted that he wanted to play for the country again.
At a virtual press conference following PBKS’ loss to the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday, the left-handed batter was asked about the U-turn. Rajapaksa explained:
“I had to withdraw my retirement letter because I was asked to do so by SLC so that I could serve the country more. I am still the same. I had an issue with my skinfold and that’s why I couldn’t represent the country and I couldn’t meet the standards of it (SLC) as well.”
The attacking batter was not chosen in the Sri Lankan team for the T20I series against India after failing a skinfold test, which is part of SLC’s selection procedure with regards to fitness levels.
Asked how he prepared for the IPL despite not having played much international cricket in recent months, Rajapaksa replied:
“I just worked on my game a bit more. I haven’t played cricket for almost four months till I came to IPL because I missed the Australian tour and India series. I just wanted to come and play and satisfy myself because this is all I know to do. I enjoy playing cricket and I just want to keep doing the good things that I have been doing in the past.”
The Sri Lankan batter has been in tremendous big-hitting form in IPL 2022. He hammered 43 off 22 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and followed it up with a 9-ball 31 on Friday against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
“Wanted to bat deep, but lost wickets in middle overs” - Rajapaksa on batting plan against KKR
PBKS put up a bizarre batting showing against KKR. They raced to 62 at the end of the powerplay but lost three wickets. Despite their blazing start, they could only end up with an underwhelming 137.
Asked what exactly Punjab’s plan with the bat was, Rajapaksa explained:
“The plan for us was to occupy the crease as much as possible and put a big score on the board. We know that Knight Riders have a very strong side, especially when it comes to batting. We knew the power of Russ (Russell) and experience of (Sam) Billings and even the class of (Shreyas) Iyer. So, we wanted to bat deep, but unfortunately we lost a couple of wickets in the middle overs. That’s where we need to improve in our next game. I am sure the boys will bounce back.”
Defending a total of 137, PBKS reduced KKR to 51 for 4. However, Andre Russell’s unbeaten 70 off 31 took Kolkata to a thumping six-wicket win.