Isuru Udana is a fascinating cricketer. A left-arm seamer and a lower-order hitter, he is in Sri Lanka’s squad to bowl; make no mistake.
Yet, it is almost certainly his batting that has seen him picked as part of his country’s party for this year’s tournament. Going into the World Cup, he has taken only two ODI wickets, doing so at an average of 93 and with an economy rate north of six.
But in a curious sense, his selection is a no-brainer. Before his return to the one-day side for March’s series in South Africa, his previous appearance in the format had come in 2012; that day, Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan and Ashok Dinda played for India – it has been some time.
But Udana is a changed cricketer. Quite simply, he hits the ball like few others. Coming in at No.8, he hit an unbeaten 48-ball 84 against South Africa in March. Against the same opposition just nine days earlier, he slapped a rapid 78, adding every run off the bat in a 58-run 10th-wicket partnership.
It was a transformation that came during his seven-year hiatus from the national side, a time during which Udana turned himself into a franchise gun-for-hire.
He was the leading wicket-taker in the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League, while his prowess with bat and ball has also led to stints in domestic T20 competitions in Canada and Bangladesh.
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