Madagamagamage Dasun Shanaka, born on September 9, 1991, is a name that resonates with cricket enthusiasts worldwide. This article delves into the life and career of this talented cricketer, covering his journey from domestic cricket to leading the Sri Lankan national team to glory.
Shanaka is not your average cricketer; he’s an all-rounder with a remarkable ability to both bat and bowl. His right-handed batting and right-arm medium-fast bowling have made him a valuable asset for the Sri Lankan cricket team.
Captaincy: A New Beginning
In 2019, Shanaka took on the prestigious role of captaining the Sri Lankan Twenty20 International (T20I) side against Pakistan. Under his leadership, Sri Lanka achieved a historic 3-0 series whitewash against Pakistan, showcasing Shanaka’s captaincy skills.
In February 2021, he was officially appointed as Sri Lanka’s T20I captain for their tour of the West Indies, succeeding the legendary Lasith Malinga. This marked a new chapter in his cricketing journey.
Notably, Shanaka was also named the captain of the Sri Lankan One Day International (ODI) squad for their series against India in July 2021, further solidifying his status as a captain of distinction.
Glory in the 2022 Asia Cup
One of the most remarkable highlights of Shanaka’s captaincy came in 2022 when he led Sri Lanka to victory in the Asia Cup. This victory marked the sixth time that Sri Lanka had clinched the prestigious title, showcasing Shanaka’s ability to lead his team to success on the international stage.
Before making a mark on the international scene, Shanaka honed his skills in domestic and T20 franchise cricket. In May 2016, he made waves by scoring a century against Leicestershire County Cricket Club in a first-class match during a tour of England. This innings highlighted his potential as a batsman.
His leadership qualities began to shine when he was named the vice-captain of Galle’s squad for the 2017–18 Super Four Provincial Tournament. This role was a stepping stone to greater leadership responsibilities.
In 2018, Shanaka was selected to play for the Montreal Tigers in the inaugural edition of the Global T20 Canada tournament. His performances in various T20 leagues around the world showcased his versatility and skill as a T20 cricketer.
A Leader Amongst Peers
Shanaka’s captaincy was not limited to international cricket. In August 2021, he was appointed as the captain of the SLC Greys team for the 2021 SLC Invitational T20 League tournament. His exceptional performances with the bat and leadership on the field earned him the Player of the Series award.
International Debut and Early Years
Shanaka’s journey in international cricket began with his selection in Sri Lanka’s T20I squad for their series against Pakistan in July 2015. He made his T20I debut on August 1, 2015, marking the beginning of what would be a promising international career.
His Test debut came on May 19, 2016, against England during the same tour. In his debut Test, he showcased his bowling prowess by dismissing England captain Alastair Cook. Despite his early success, Sri Lanka faced defeat in the match.
Shanaka’s One Day International (ODI) debut was against Ireland on June 16, 2016. In this match, he made a significant impact, scoring 42 runs from just 19 balls and taking an impressive five wickets for 42 runs. This performance earned him the title of the Player of the Series.
The Complete Package: All-Round Ability
Shanaka’s cricketing abilities go beyond his batting and bowling. He possesses a rare all-round ability that sets him apart. His contributions with both bat and ball have often been game-changing for Sri Lanka.
However, his career faced a brief setback when he was found guilty of altering the condition of the ball during a Test match against India. Despite this, he continued to make strides in international cricket.
In September 2019, Shanaka was entrusted with the captaincy of Sri Lanka’s T20I squad for a series against Pakistan in Pakistan. Under his leadership, Sri Lanka secured a memorable victory in the first T20I, ending a six-year drought of T20I wins against Pakistan.
He continued to lead Sri Lanka to victory in all three T20Is against Pakistan, marking Sri Lanka’s first-ever T20I series whitewash and Pakistan’s first whitewash loss in the format. This accomplishment placed him in the elite company of captains like MS Dhoni and Michael Clarke.
A Century and a Record
Shanaka’s career reached new heights in January 2022 when he scored his first century in an ODI match, amassing 102 runs. Despite his century, Sri Lanka faced a narrow defeat. However, his ability to perform under pressure earned him accolades.
In June 2022, Shanaka played a match-winning innings against Australia, guiding Sri Lanka to victory with a stunning 48 runs from just 13 deliveries. His performance earned him the Man of the Match award.
Asia Cup Triumph
The pinnacle of Shanaka’s captaincy career came in September 2022 when he led Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup twenty20 series held in the UAE. Sri Lanka’s remarkable journey in the tournament included wins against Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. They clinched the Asia Cup title for the sixth time, underscoring Shanaka’s leadership prowess.
World Cup Qualification
Despite facing challenges, Shanaka’s captaincy led Sri Lanka to qualify for the World Cup 2023. His leadership played a pivotal role in the team’s success during the World Cup qualifiers.
A Personal Touch
Beyond the cricket field, Shanaka’s personal life reflects stability and commitment. He tied the knot with his girlfriend, Chevanthi, on September 5, 2020, after three years of togetherness. Their wedding was a memorable event held at the Avanra Garden Hotel in Negombo.
In conclusion, Madagamagamage Dasun Shanaka’s journey from a budding cricketer to the captain of the Sri Lankan cricket team is a testament to his dedication and cricketing prowess. His remarkable achievements on the field and personal milestones make him a beloved figure in the world of cricket. As Shanaka continues to lead and inspire, the cricketing world eagerly awaits the chapters he will add to his remarkable career.