Sri Lankan cricket has long relied on the inevitable runs from Kumar Sangakarra and Mahela Jayawardene. However, like every other cricketer, they will one day be forced to retire. It is a breath of fresh air, then, to see a young batsman put his hand up to fill the gaping hole when they eventually leave the side. Dinesh Chandimal might only be 23, but he has already shown a penchant for run scoring.
After breaking all kinds of records in Sri Lanka’s secondary school competitions, Chandimal rose to prominence with a flurry of fine hundreds for the Sri Lankan under-19 side. Aside from his batting, Chandimal was also impressing talent scouts with his tidy glove work behind the stumps. In Dinesh Chandimal, the selectors were getting a glimpse into life after Kumar Sangakarra.
In 2009, he showed off his maturity with a chanceless century against New Zealand for the Sri Lankan Development side. His prolific form couldn’t be ignored, and Sri Lankan selectors threw the youngster an opportunity in the 2010 World T20, where he played in three of Sri Lanka’s matches.
Like many Sri Lankan cricketers, Chandimal experienced ODI cricket before playing a Test. The selectors were proven right almost immediately, with Chandimal hitting two centuries in his first six matches. Just like his heroic efforts in the under-19 series, the hundreds came against India and England.
Australians have seen Chandimal on these shores before, with the talented batsman having travelled here earlier in 2012 for the tri-series with Australia and India. The impressive tour came on the back of a trip to South Africa, where Chandimal also made his Test debut. Scores of 58 and 54 proved crucial, as Sri Lanka went on to win their first ever Test in the region. His one day form on both tours was exemplary, with Chandimal hitting 630 runs in his 16 innings.
Although he is still relatively young, the future looks incredibly bright for this gifted player. Importantly, he has shown an ability to play well not just in Sri Lanka, but on the bouncier pitches in South Africa and Australia. It wouldn’t be a surprise to hear people talking about Chandimal in the same breath as Sangakarra and Jayawardene when he too nears retirement.