It has been that kind of a season in Kandy, with postponements galore and many matches ending in no decisions. Amidst the uncertainty that surrounds Kandy’s school cricketers, two batsmen have stood out. Arjuna Jayasinghe (Trinity) and Deshan Gunasinghe (Dharmaraja) have made emphatic statements with the bat.
At 17 years, Rajan left hander Deshan Gunasinghe is currently playing his first full season. He made 26 in the 2013 Big Match. However, shifting focus to studies in late 2013, he couldn’t make the cut for this year’s Big Match, on his return.
Deshan has put all that behind him and now, a regular in the team, he has set his sight on scoring a thousand runs in 2014/15. His hopes are not pie in the sky. Starting off with 93 (Dharmasoka), he made 28 (Dharmapala) 36 (Vidyartha) and 42 retired (St. Sylvester’s).
But the best of Deshan came when it really mattered against good opposition, on unfamiliar territory at Reid Avenue. A top score of 91 not out (team total 197) against Royal gets his nod for the best innings he has played. The last man helped him add around 15 runs before being dismissed, leaving Deshan nine runs short of his first hundred at this level. The opposition had bowlers such as Randev Pathirana, Lasitha Embudeniya, Harith Samarasinghe and Sri Lanka Under-19 paceman Chamika Karunaratne.
Before he could dwell on his triumph, he was called upon by his team once more to perform a salvage operation in the second innings. Although he is an opener, he batted at number four and walked out within the total on 0-2. It soon became 0-3. Unaffected by the situation and undeterred by the opposition, Deshan showed great character, concentration and composure in making 73 (out of a total of 128-7). It was almost an instance of Gunasinghe versus Royal.
A pure left-hander, he also bowls medium pace and has a return of four for 22.
However his left-arm medium pace is only the second string attacked to his bow.
His theories on batting are interesting. Quite prepared to hit even the first ball he faces for four, Deshan doesn’t like to be put under pressure to be dictated to. When asked what he’ll do if the situation is bad, he concedes that he will have to exercise a bit of caution.
The 42 retired against St. Sylvester’s at the Pallekele Stadium was an elegant knock.
Essentially a driver, Deshan favours the off and on drives. In doing so, he uses the full face of the bat. He can also drive through mid wicket.
Deshan has two more years of school cricket and the captaincy could be his in the near future.
An above average student, he obtained 5As, 3Bs and a C at his O/L exam. He is offering commerce subjects for his A/L. Does a place at the university backon? Deshan says he has hopes of pursuing his studies abroad.
We have not heard the last of Deshan Gunasinghe. With his easy, upright style, his penchant for attack and his ready employment of the straight bat, the runs are bound to flow. You can bet that this protege of coach Senaka Dissanaike will get them attractively, too.