The word meteoric sums up the rise of Dharmaraja’s talented and prolific left arm spinner Venuka Galahitiyawa. From being one of the expendables, Galahitiyawa had the courage to persevere and come back to become, together with his skipper Deneth Lanka, the kingpins of the Rajan attack.
In his first season, the fourteen-year-old played six games and picked up twenty wickets. He was almost totally ignored in the next two seasons as his place was taken by a newcomer to the school. Galahitiyawa played just one two-day match and four limited overs matches in the period from 2011 to 2013.
The ‘obstacle’ out of the way, he went on to perform big deeds for his school in the season that concluded last month. Perhaps, his 7-18 in the second innings of the Big Match was the most satisfying as it helped the Rajans to score a victory that seemed rather remote at the end of day one. He, and the rest of the bowlers were attacked by an array of left-handers in the Kingswood side. So much so, that the left-armer was thirsting for revenge.
A match bag of 9-118 against the strong DS Senanayake team helped to setup an innings win for the Rajans.
On the flip side Galahitiyawa would like to forget an analysis of 46-21-182-5 against Ananda, who batted the whole of the second day and a part of the first as well in meaningless exercise. He points out that the battering at the hands of Sahan Arachchige and Sammu Ashan (centuries, both) came in the final session. He was a tired lad by then and Rajans spirits were also dropping.
Galahitiyawa has shown that if he works on his batting bit more and, if he’s given a step or two up the order, he could easily come into the all-rounder category. A left-hander, he bats sensibly and sells his wicket dearly.
Together with Sapumal Tennakoon, he was involved in a courageous last wicket stand of 76 that turned impending defeat into glorious triumph in the match against St. Anthony’s. Galahitiyawa explains that he and his partner set small targets for themselves.
Another instance where his batting skills came to the fore was in the one day match against Kingswood. The Rajans were making heavy weather of getting a small target. Galahitiyawa was promoted. He bided his time initially. All of a sudden, he produced a stunning lofted drive for four and a superb drive through the covers for another boundary. The shackles were broken and from then on, the Rajans strolled to victory.
Galahitiyawa captained the under 15 team and, in all probability the job of leading the school team in the 2015/16 season should be his. He has turned out to the Kandy district and Central Province teams in age group tournaments. He is the recipient of the Dagoba-Dharmarja’s highest honour – which was awarded for his 84 wickets.
Galahitiyawa varies the degree of spin and bowls a good arm ball. The latter has got him many wickets.
Not merely a cricketing wonder, the confident youngster also obtained eight As at the O/L exam and is presently following A/L Commerce classes.
He is pretty fluent in English and is not at all diffident about speaking it. This could be due to the influence of his mother – an English teacher.
The coaches who have helped to make his talent flower are Gamini Debehapuwa, Ananda Wijesekera, Harsha Udana and Senaka Dissanaike. The principal, who has the cricketing statistics at his finger-tips, has been a source of great encouragement