Dhananjaya Maduranga de Silva, known simply as Dhananjaya de Silva, is a notable Sri Lankan cricketer, renowned for his contributions in all formats of the game. His impressive career has seen him serve as the vice-captain of the national team in both One Day Internationals (ODIs) and Test matches, making him a pivotal figure in Sri Lankan cricket. His journey is marked by personal achievements and remarkable performances on the field.
Early Life and Education
Born on 6th September 1991 in Hambantota, Dhananjaya de Silva hails from a family of three brothers. His journey into the world of cricket began at Deberawewa National School in Tissamaharama, Hambanthota. Later, after relocating to Galle, he briefly attended Mahanama College Colombo before joining Richmond College, Galle.
Richmond College played a significant role in shaping his cricketing skills, and he eventually captained their first XI cricket team during the 2010/2011 season. However, Dhananjaya’s personal life was marred by tragedy when, on 25th May 2018, his father, Ranjan de Silva, was tragically murdered by an unidentified assailant in front of their Ratmalana residence. This devastating loss led Dhananjaya to withdraw from the Sri Lankan squad for the West Indies tour initially. Nevertheless, he later returned to the team from the second match onwards, displaying immense resilience.
Dhananjaya de Silva’s domestic cricket career has been marked by steady progress and consistent performances. In March 2018, he was appointed as the vice-captain of the Colombo squad for the 2017–18 Super Four Provincial Tournament, showcasing his leadership potential. Subsequently, he was included in Colombo’s squad for the 2018 Super Provincial One Day Tournament, underlining his versatility in limited-overs cricket.
His impact in domestic cricket continued to grow, and in August 2018, Dhananjaya de Silva earned a place in Galle’s squad for the 2018 SLC T20 League, further solidifying his reputation as a valuable all-round cricketer. In March 2019, he was selected for Galle’s squad in the 2019 Super Provincial One Day Tournament, where he not only displayed his skills but also earned recognition as the player of the tournament following the competition’s conclusion.
Dhananjaya’s domestic prowess led to his inclusion in the inaugural edition of the Lanka Premier League, where he was drafted by the Jaffna Stallions in October 2020. His consistent performances in domestic cricket and his ability to adapt to different formats were key factors in his cricketing journey.
In August 2021, Dhananjaya de Silva’s leadership qualities were recognized as he was appointed as the captain of the SLC Blues team for the 2021 SLC Invitational T20 League tournament, highlighting his potential as a leader in Sri Lankan cricket. His talents continued to be in demand, and in July 2022, he was signed by the Jaffna Kings for the third edition of the Lanka Premier League, affirming his status as a sought-after player in the T20 circuit.
International Debut and Early Career
Dhananjaya de Silva made his entry into international cricket with Sri Lanka, and his journey has been marked by significant milestones and contributions to the national team.
He made his Twenty20 International (T20I) debut in July 2015 when he was named in Sri Lanka’s T20I squad for their series against Pakistan. His debut match saw him score 31 runs, although Sri Lanka faced defeat.
Dhananjaya de Silva’s introduction to One Day Internationals (ODIs) came on 16th June 2016 when he made his ODI debut against Ireland. This marked the beginning of his ODI career, and he received the 169th Sri Lankan ODI cap.
In July 2016, he was included in Sri Lanka’s Test squad for their series against Australia, leading to his Test debut on 26th July 2016. Notably, he became the first Sri Lankan player to open his Test career with a six, setting a unique record. His debut also saw him take his first Test wicket by dismissing Peter Nevill in the second innings of the match.
Cementing His Place in the Team
Dhananjaya de Silva’s Test career gained momentum as he displayed remarkable performances against Australia. During the third Test of the Australian series, he scored his maiden Test century, rescuing Sri Lanka from a precarious position. His partnership with Dinesh Chandimal was instrumental in securing a historic series victory over Australia, and he emerged as the highest run-scorer in the series.
His versatility and adaptability were further evident when he transitioned to the role of an opener in ODIs, following the retirement of Tillakaratne Dilshan. In his first outing as an opener, he scored an impressive 76 runs, setting a record as the highest score by a Sri Lankan opening batsman in their debut innings.
Dhananjaya de Silva’s consistent performances extended to Test matches against Zimbabwe, where he formed crucial partnerships and recorded his second Test century. His contributions played a pivotal role in Sri Lanka’s victories during these matches.
Challenges and Comebacks
Despite his early successes, Dhananjaya de Silva faced challenges, leading to fluctuations in his international career. A series of poor performances led to his exclusion from the national squad in various formats. Notably, he was initially left out of Sri Lanka’s ODI squad for the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy but was later called up due to an injury to another player.
Dhananjaya de Silva’s journey featured moments of resilience and determination. His Test century against India in the third Test was an example of his ability to bounce back from setbacks. However, he had to leave the field due to a thigh injury during that match.
In December 2020, he toured South Africa, where he showcased his batting prowess in the Boxing Day Test. He scored his seventh half-century but was forced to retire hurt due to a wrist injury while on 79 runs.
During the first Test match against Bangladesh in May 2021, Dhananjaya de Silva displayed his remarkable Test century, forming an unbeaten partnership with Dimuth Karunaratne. This partnership set a record for any wicket in a Test match in Kandy.
In recent years, Dhananjaya de Silva has continued to contribute to the Sri Lankan cricket team. His consistent performances have earned him recognition, and he was one of the cricketers awarded a national contract by Sri Lanka Cricket ahead of the 2018–19 season.
His journey also saw him make a successful return to the T20I side, proving his worth with all-round performances. In a one-off T20I against South Africa in August 2018, he played a vital role in the team’s victory by contributing with both bat and ball, earning him the man of the match award.
Dhananjaya de Silva’s performance in the 2019 Cricket World Cup demonstrated his ability to excel on the global stage. His crucial contributions, including three wickets against England, played a key role in Sri Lanka’s victory, marking their fourth consecutive win