Sri Lankan pacer Matheesha Pathirana is making his One Day International (ODI) debut in the first game of the three-match series against Afghanistan at Hambantota today, June 2.
The 20-year-old was part of the Sri Lankan ODI and T20 squad for the tour of New Zealand earlier this year but did not feature in a single game as the Kiwis emerged victorious in both series.
Pathirana has thus far played one T20I for the national side in the opening match of the Asia Cup in 2022 — against Bangladesh in Dubai. Speaking at the toss, skipper Dasun Shanaka confirmed the news of Pathirana making his ODI debut.
"It's a nice deck. We would have bowled as well. The youngsters didn't perform well so the experienced Dimuth is ideal at the top. Two debutants - Dushan Hemantha and Matheesha Pathirana, said Shanaka.
Pathirana was among the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) stars in the recently concluded IPL, picking up 19 wickets in 12 games at an average of 19.53. The youngster bowled at an incredible economy rate of 8.01 runs per over, considering he was predominantly bowling during the death overs.
While Pathirana is still very young in his career, a lot of comparisons have already been made between him and his compatriot Lasith Malinga, referring to him as 'Baby Malinga'.
"MS Dhoni had a huge amount of faith in his capabilities" - Tom Moody on the CSK skipper entrusting Matheesha Pathirana in IPL 2023
The Sri Lankan pacer was often captain MS Dhoni's go-to bowler during difficult situations and was always tasked with bowling his four overs from the 13th over of the innings.
Speaking to ESPN Cricinfo, Tom Moody remarked that MS Dhoni showed tremendous trust in Pathirana to bowl him at the most challenging stages of the innings.
From a bowling standout, it has to be Pathirana [most impressive performer]. He excelled and improved as the tournament unfolded. He was given a specific role to bowl after the 10th over, which is a huge responsibility when you have still got four to bowl. MS Dhoni had a huge amount of faith in his capabilities and he managed to perform more often than not and deliver the goods under pressure,” said Moody.
Pathirana picked up an incredible 18 wickets between overs 15 to 20 in the 2023 IPL at an astonishing average of 13.6 and an economy rate of only 7.82 runs per over.
He played a vital role in CSK winning their fifth IPL title against the Gujarat Titans in the finale on May 29.