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Tharindu Kaushal: Sri Lanka's "duplicate Murali" makes his ODI debut

Tharindu Kaushal: Sri Lanka's new mystery spinner.

Tharindu Kaushal made his Test debut against New Zealand in December 2014

Although Sri Lanka already had four spinners in their World Cup squad, the young off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal was also flown in as back-up. Being in his early 20s, Kaushal trained alongside other World Cup regulars in the Lankan nets. However, little did he expect that he would get a fairytale call-up this morning ahead of the all important quarter-final clash against South Africa.

The right-arm off-break that he is, he should consider himself extremely lucky to make his ODI debut at the SCG in a World Cup knock-out fixture. He was picked to replace the team’s frontline spinner Rangana Herath who injured himself two weeks ago. 

Kaushal had earlier made his Test debut for Sri Lanka during the 2014 Boxing Day Test against New Zealand at Christchurch. That again came as an opportunity from nowhere as that time too, Herath was declared unavailable for the game.

During the toss today, Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathew announced Kaushal’s inclusion in the playing XI and described him as a “duplicate Murali“. This metaphor takes us back to his early days from the Sri Lankan domestic circuit. Kaushal broke into the local cricket scene when he made his debut in 2012 as a 20-year-old.

In seven matches for Nondescripts Cricket Club, he reaped 50 wickets at an average of 15.20, and collected six five-wicket hauls. He has also played for the Sri Lankan U-19 side. He carried over his good run to the Sri Lanka A side and also claimed 43 wickets at 23.55 in the Premier League Tournament,

This consistent growth in the national level tournaments promoted Kaushal to get drafted into the Sri Lankan Test squad in 2014. Though he couldn’t produce any magic in his very first international appearance, he managed to pick up two wickets in the match.

Kaushal is lanky and tall and uses these attributes to his advantage by employing a distinctive high-kneed approach to the crease. This in turn helps him extract bounce from the turf. Observers reveal that he uses both his hands as well his wrists while releasing the ball. 

This enigmatic off-spinner uses this technique to generate a unique ‘doosra’ which makes it difficult for batsmen to comprehend his deliveries. Since players around the world haven’t seen him play much, the tactic of Sri Lanka to include him for today’s quarterfinal match might spring an unexpected surprise should this mystery spinner manage to pull off some magic at the SCG.

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