Watch: Sri Lanka unveil right-arm version of Paul Adams in U-19 Asia Cup
Sri Lanka's tradition of producing mystery spinners is set to continue for the foreseeable future as well. This time around, there is a touch of foreign influence emanating from highly unlikely quarters. The island nation has unearthed a right-handed version of South Africa's chinaman exponent Paul Adams.
During the ongoing edition of the ACC U-19 Asia Cup in Malaysia, Sri Lanka unveiled a promising talent with a bowling action eerily reminiscent of Adams. Leg-spinner Kevin Koththigoda left everyone in utter bewilderment with a bowling action uncannily similar to the former left-arm spinner's trademark 'frog in a blender'.
With his exotic bowling action, Koththigoda created an instant impression during Sri Lanka's Group B clash against Afghanistan. In the game at Bayuemas Oval, Koththigoda sent down eight tidy overs and picked up a wicket to help his team defend a paltry total of 196 on a surface conducive for spin.
This is not the first instance of a spinner replicating the unusual bowling action of Adams. During the 2016 season of the Indian Premier League, Gujarat Lions showcased a carbon copy of the South African bowler by introducing Shivil Kaushik. The chinaman bowler played seven matches in the 2016 season. However, he was able to get only three games in this year's IPL edition.
Watch Kevin Koththigoda's weird bowling action (Video Courtesy: thepapare.com)
However, Pakistan played Koththigoda much better in the match at Kinrara Oval. Having to defend a meager total of 141, the leg-spinner conceded as many as 32 runs from his 5.1 overs. Even though he picked up a wicket, his spell could not prevent Sri Lanka from slipping to a 3-wicket defeat.
Sri Lanka's chances of qualifying for the semi-final took a substantial blow with the defeat. They now have to hope that Afghanistan (who hold a better net run-rate) crash to an unexpected loss in the final Group B match against United Arab Emirates at Kinrara Oval on Tuesday. If the Afghans win the game, they will move to the last four at the expense of Kamindu Mendis' troops.
Tracking the rise of Kevin Koththigoda
Koththigoda originally hails from a place called Unawatuna in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. The town is just a few miles away from the iconic Galle Cricket Stadium. Apart from being an exotic leg-spinner, he is also a useful lower-order batsman and a live-wire on the field. Coached by former Sri Lanka 'A' batsman Dhammika Sudarshana, the teenager first came into prominence by representing Richmond College.
However, Richmond College already boasted of a quality leg-spinner in the form of Wanindu Hasaranga who made his senior debut in the ODI series against Zimbabwe. Hence, Koththigoda switched to arch-rival Mahinda College.
Speaking to Cricbuzz, Sudarshana quipped, "He has a very unusual action. It's like that of Paul Adams. The action wasn't coached or anything, it came naturally to him. Initially, he was struggling with the length as he couldn't see the pitch. But he has (now) improved tremendously."
Similarities with Paul Adams
South Africa's Paul Adams arrived into the limelight during the 1995 Port Elizabeth Test against England. Already a rare chinaman exponent, his convoluted bowling action set the cat among the pigeons in the opposition camp. Having created a record for being the youngest cricketer to represent the Proteas in Tests, he picked up four wickets in his debut match.
Even though South Africa relied heavily on their world-class pacers across all conditions, Adams was able to carve a niche for himself in the bowling attack. His awkward bowling was described as akin to a 'frog in a blender'.
Extra Cover: Top 5 bowling spells of Paul Adams
Following the emergence of Nicky Boje, the Proteas opted to stick with the orthodox left-arm spinner rather than the chinaman bowler. As a consequence, Adams' promising career was restricted to 45 Tests and 24 ODIs. He picked up a combined tally of 163 wickets across both formats and played his final game in 2004.