Charith Asalanka, born on June 29, 1997, is a dynamic and versatile Sri Lankan cricketer who has made significant contributions in all three formats of the game. He also serves as the vice-captain of the national T20I team, showcasing his leadership skills and cricketing prowess. As a left-handed batsman, Asalanka has established himself as a destructive and efficient batter, capable of turning the game in his team’s favor with his aggressive style of play.
Charith Asalanka’s cricketing journey began to take shape during his formative years, and his talent was evident from the outset. In 2013, at a young age, he embarked on a tour of England and showcased his skills by opening the batting and emerging as the top scorer in a three-day match against an English under-17 team at Loughborough. His scores of 92 and 31 demonstrated his early promise and ability to perform on the international stage.
During the 2014-15 season, Asalanka played a crucial role for Richmond College, Galle, as he opened the batting and helped guide his school to the final of the schools’ twenty-20 competition. This period marked his emergence as a talented young cricketer.
In 2014-15, Asalanka had the honor of captaining the Sri Lankan under-19 team in matches against under-19 teams from Australia and Bangladesh. During the five-match limited-overs series against Bangladesh under-19, he showcased his prowess by emerging as Sri Lanka’s highest scorer with 225 runs at an impressive average of 45.00. Additionally, he contributed as the second-highest wicket-taker, claiming eight wickets at an average of 21.00. His exceptional performance included a memorable match where he took 4 wickets for 36 runs and scored 63 runs, setting the stage for a Sri Lankan victory. Asalanka’s performances earned him recognition, and he was awarded the prestigious Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in both 2015 and 2016, becoming only the seventh player to achieve this honor twice.
Asalanka’s journey in domestic cricket began in April 2015 when he made his first-class debut. In a crucial match to determine the final entrant in the Premier Trophy for the following season, he played a pivotal role for his team, Galle. In the face of a challenging situation, Asalanka exhibited his batting prowess by scoring a remarkable 114 runs off 123 balls, leading Galle to a total of 295. He also displayed his all-round capabilities by taking 4 wickets for 34 runs, contributing significantly to Galle’s victory over Sri Lanka Air Force Sports Club. This match showcased his ability to perform under pressure and his potential as a valuable asset to his team.
In addition to first-class cricket, Asalanka ventured into the world of Twenty20 cricket. He made his Twenty20 debut for Sinhalese Sports Club in the 2017-18 SLC Twenty20 Tournament, marking his presence in the shorter format of the game.
As his career progressed, Asalanka continued to make waves in domestic cricket. In April 2018, he was named in Kandy’s squad for the 2018 Super Provincial One Day Tournament, highlighting his growing reputation as a talented cricketer. Subsequently, in August 2018, he found a place in Kandy’s squad for the 2018 SLC T20 League. During the tournament, Asalanka emerged as the leading wicket-taker for Kandy, securing ten dismissals in six matches, further solidifying his credentials as a player to watch.
The inaugural edition of the Lanka Premier League in October 2020 presented another opportunity for Asalanka to showcase his skills as he was drafted by the Jaffna Stallions, adding to his experience in T20 cricket.
One of the significant milestones in Asalanka’s domestic career came in March 2021 when he captained Sinhalese Sports Club to victory in the 2020-21 SLC Twenty20 Tournament. It was a historic win for Sinhalese Sports Club, marking their first tournament victory since 2005. Asalanka’s leadership and contributions played a pivotal role in the team’s success.
Asalanka’s penchant for impactful performances continued in domestic cricket. On March 24, 2021, in the Major Clubs Limited Over Tournament, he played a scintillating innings, scoring an unbeaten century against Police Sports Club. His knock of 178 runs from 145 balls, adorned with 16 boundaries and 5 sixes, powered Sinhalese Sports Club to a total of 339 runs, resulting in a 31-run victory.
Asalanka’s heroics did not stop there. On April 1, 2021, in another match of the Major Clubs Limited Over Tournament, he displayed his match-winning prowess by scoring a century against Colts Cricket Club. His unbeaten 101 runs from 89 balls, while chasing a target of 278 runs, led Sinhalese Sports Club to an emphatic 8-wicket victory with 68 balls remaining. These performances underscored his ability to anchor innings and finish matches with aplomb.
In August 2021, Asalanka’s leadership qualities were recognized as he was appointed as the vice-captain of the SLC Greys team for the 2021 SLC Invitational T20 League tournament. His selection for this role showcased the trust and confidence placed in him by the cricketing fraternity.
As his career progressed, Asalanka’s reputation continued to grow. In November 2021, he was selected to represent the Kandy Warriors following the players’ draft for the 2021 Lanka Premier League. This opportunity allowed him to further showcase his skills on the T20 stage.
During a National Super League match, while representing team Colombo, Asalanka displayed his class by scoring his 13th List A half-century against team Dambulla. His contribution was crucial in chasing down a target of 143 runs, and he also made valuable contributions with the ball. Team Colombo emerged victorious in the match, winning by 7 wickets.
In July 2022, Asalanka’s talents were recognized as he was signed by the Colombo Stars for the third edition of the Lanka Premier League. This move reinforced his stature as a sought-after player in the T20 format.
U19 Captaincy and International Career
Charith Asalanka’s journey as a leader began early in his career when he had the honor of captaining the Sri Lanka under-19 team. In a two-match series against Pakistan under-19 in October 2015, Asalanka made a significant impact by scoring 334 runs at a remarkable average of 167.00. His performances included a double-century and a century, showcasing his ability to lead from the front.
Asalanka’s leadership skills were further put to the test when he captained Sri Lanka in the 2016 Under-19 Cricket World Cup, gaining invaluable experience on the global stage.
In November 2018, Asalanka was included in Sri Lanka’s Test squad for their series against England, marking a significant step in his international journey. Although he did not make his Test debut during that series, the experience served as a valuable learning opportunity.
December 2018 saw Asalanka take on the captaincy of the Sri Lanka team for the 2018 ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup, further honing his leadership abilities. Later, in November 2019, he was entrusted with the captaincy of Sri Lanka’s squad for the 2019 ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup in Bangladesh, solidifying his role as a leader in Sri Lankan cricket.
Asalanka’s leadership extended to the cricket tournament at the 2019 South Asian Games, where he captained the Sri Lanka team. While the team secured the silver medal, losing to Bangladesh in the final, Asalanka’s leadership qualities continued to evolve.
Charith Asalanka’s journey to international cricket reached a significant milestone when he was named in Sri Lanka’s squad for their tour of England in June 2021. His selection marked the beginning of his international career, and he was eager to make his mark on the global stage.
On June 29, 2021, Asalanka made his One Day International (ODI) debut for Sri Lanka against England, a momentous occasion in his cricketing journey. His debut symbolized the realization of a dream to represent his country at the highest level of the sport.
In July 2021, Asalanka’s international career continued to gather momentum as he was named in Sri Lanka’s squad for their series against India. During the series, he achieved a significant milestone by scoring his maiden ODI fifty against India on July 19, 2021, showcasing his ability to perform on the international stage.
Asalanka’s versatility and adaptability were further evident when he made his T20I debut on July 25, 2021, for Sri Lanka against India, expanding his presence in the shorter format of the game.
In the first ODI against South Africa on September 2, 2021, Asalanka displayed his prowess by scoring his second ODI half-century. He played a pivotal role in forming a match-winning partnership with Avishka Fernando, contributing to Sri Lanka’s victory by 14 runs. His performance was a testament to his ability to perform under pressure.
The second ODI saw Asalanka continue his fine form as he recorded another fifty, albeit in a losing effort. His consistent performances drew attention and established him as a key player for Sri Lanka.
In the third ODI, Asalanka contributed significantly by scoring 47 runs and helping Sri Lanka post a total of 203 runs in 50 overs. He also achieved a milestone by taking his first ODI wicket, dismissing Andile Phehlukwayo. Sri Lanka won the match by 78 runs, and Asalanka’s all-round performance earned him the player of the series award as the highest run-scorer of the series.
In October 2021, Asalanka’s talents earned him a place in Sri Lanka’s squad for the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, solidifying his position in the national team.
On October 24, 2021, Asalanka achieved a personal milestone by scoring his maiden T20I half-century against Bangladesh. His unbeaten 80 runs from 49 deliveries, featuring five boundaries and five sixes, played a pivotal role in Sri Lanka’s victory by 5 wickets. Asalanka’s dynamic batting abilities were on full display, and he was rightfully awarded the player of the match.
November 4, 2021, witnessed another impressive performance by Asalanka as he scored his second T20I half-century against West Indies. He demonstrated his prowess by scoring 68 runs from 41 balls, which included eight boundaries and one six. His performance played a crucial role in Sri Lanka’s victory by 20 runs, earning him the player of the match award. During the T20 World Cup in 2021, Asalanka emerged as the highest run-scorer for Sri Lanka and the 5th highest run-scorer in the tournament, amassing 231 runs in 6 matches with an impressive average of 46.20, featuring two half-centuries.
November 2021 also marked Asalanka’s selection in Sri Lanka’s Test squad for their series against the West Indies. His inclusion in the Test format represented a significant step in his international career. He made his Test debut against the West Indies on November 29, 2021, signifying his ability to adapt to different formats of the game.
On January 16, 2022, in the first ODI against Zimbabwe, Asalanka continued to shine by scoring his fourth ODI half-century. His innings of 71 runs from 68 balls, adorned with six fours and two sixes, played a crucial role in Sri Lanka’s successful chase of 297 runs, resulting in a 5-wicket victory. Asalanka’s partnership with Dinesh Chandimal was instrumental in securing the win.
In the third ODI match against Zimbabwe, Asalanka recorded his fifth ODI half-century, scoring 52 runs from 56 deliveries. During the match, he also reached the milestone of scoring 2000 List A runs. Sri Lanka’s victory by 184 runs in this match secured the series win, and Asalanka was awarded the player of the match for his stellar performance.
June 21, 2022, marked a significant moment in Asalanka’s ODI career as he scored his maiden ODI century during the fourth ODI against Australia. His remarkable innings of 110 runs from 106 balls, featuring 10 boundaries and one six, propelled Sri Lanka to a total of 258 runs. In a closely contested match, Sri Lanka emerged victorious by 4 runs, securing the series win. Asalanka’s century earned him the player of the match award, highlighting his ability to perform on the big stage.
November 30, 2022, witnessed yet another milestone in Asalanka’s ODI career as he scored his sixth ODI half-century during the third ODI against Afghanistan. His unbeaten 83 runs, which included five boundaries and four sixes, were instrumental in Sri Lanka successfully chasing down a target of 313 runs. Asalanka’s performance earned him the player of the match award, showcasing his consistency and ability to deliver in crucial situations.
April 2, 2023, marked another exceptional T20I performance by Asalanka during the first T20I match against New Zealand. He scored his fourth T20I half-century, amassing 67 runs from 41 deliveries, including two boundaries and six sixes. The match extended to a super over, where Asalanka’s contributions were vital in securing victory. His dynamic batting display earned him the player of the match award, reinforcing his reputation as a valuable asset in the T20 format.
On June 27, 2023, Asalanka continued to shine in ODI cricket as he scored his eighth ODI half-century against Scotland. His innings of 63 runs from 65 deliveries, featuring four boundaries and two sixes, contributed to Sri Lanka’s convincing victory by 82 runs.
August 31, 2023, marked the beginning of the Asia Cup, and Asalanka made his presence felt in the first match against Bangladesh. He scored his ninth ODI half-century, remaining unbeaten with 62 runs from 92 deliveries, including five boundaries and one six. Asalanka’s composed batting guided Sri Lanka to a 5-wicket victory.
Charith Asalanka’s cricketing journey has been characterized by consistent performances, adaptability across formats, and the ability to rise to the occasion on the international stage. His dynamic batting, all-round capabilities, and leadership qualities make him a vital asset to Sri Lankan cricket, and his continued success promises a bright future for both him and his national team.