Lahiru Sudesh Kumara, commonly known as Lahiru Kumara, was born on February 13, 1997. He is a rising star in Sri Lankan cricket, known for his blistering pace and impressive performances across all three formats of the game. Kumara’s journey from a young and talented cricketer to a vital member of the Sri Lanka national cricket team is a testament to his dedication and exceptional fast bowling abilities.
Early Days and Domestic Debut
Lahiru Kumara’s cricketing journey began at a young age, and his talent quickly caught the eye of cricketing enthusiasts. His remarkable pace, often exceeding 140 km/h, was a rare and valuable asset for Sri Lankan cricket. Kumara’s journey to professional cricket started when he made his first-class debut for Sri Lanka A against West Indies A on October 4, 2016. This debut marked the beginning of a promising career that would soon see him don the Sri Lankan national jersey.
In the shorter format, Kumara made his Twenty20 debut for Nondescripts Cricket Club during the 2017–18 SLC Twenty20 Tournament on February 24, 2018. This transition to T20 cricket showcased his adaptability and versatility as a fast bowler.
Kumara’s consistent performances in domestic cricket earned him recognition and opportunities at higher levels. In March 2018, he was named in Kandy’s squad for the 2017–18 Super Four Provincial Tournament, where he continued to impress with his raw pace and wicket-taking ability. His selection in Kandy’s squad for the 2018 Super Provincial One Day Tournament the following month further highlighted his growing stature in Sri Lankan cricket.
In August 2018, Kumara was part of Galle’s squad for the 2018 SLC T20 League. This tournament allowed him to showcase his talent on a bigger stage, and he emerged as the leading wicket-taker in the competition with thirteen dismissals in six matches.
Kumara’s consistency and ability to make an impact were evident when he was drafted by the Dambulla Viiking for the inaugural edition of the Lanka Premier League in October 2020. The opportunity to represent a franchise in a league of this stature was a significant step in his career.
Under-19 World Cup Glory
Before making his debut in senior cricket, Lahiru Kumara had already made waves in youth cricket. He was a key figure in Sri Lanka’s squad for the 2016 Under-19 Cricket World Cup. During the tournament, he played a pivotal role in guiding the Sri Lanka U-19 team to the semi-finals. Alongside fellow pacer Asitha Fernando, Kumara’s contributions helped secure a crucial victory in the semi-final, where they won the match by six wickets. This early exposure to international youth cricket hinted at his potential for greater success on the international stage.
Rapid Rise to International Cricket
Lahiru Kumara’s transition to international cricket happened swiftly. He was selected for Sri Lanka’s Test squad for their tour of Zimbabwe in October 2016. Kumara made his Test debut for Sri Lanka against Zimbabwe on October 29, 2016. In this match, he took his maiden Test wicket by dismissing Peter Moor, announcing his arrival on the Test cricket scene.
Following his successful Test debut, Kumara was also called up to the One Day International (ODI) team for the Tri-Series in Zimbabwe, which included West Indies as the third team. His inclusion in the limited-overs format reflected his versatility as a fast bowler who could make an impact in all formats of the game.
Kumara’s journey continued as he was selected for the Test series against South Africa in the 2016–17 season. He played in the second Test at Newlands Cricket Ground and delivered a memorable performance by taking his maiden Test five-wicket haul. His figures of 6 for 122 were not only the best by a Sri Lankan pacer in South Africa but also the second-best overall in South Africa cricket history. This exceptional performance solidified his reputation as a potent fast bowler on challenging pitches.
In January 2017, Kumara was added to Sri Lanka’s ODI squad for their series against South Africa. He made his ODI debut against South Africa on February 4, 2017, at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. In this match, he not only showcased his bowling prowess but also contributed with the bat. He scored 5 runs and took his first ODI wicket by dismissing Quinton de Kock for 8 runs.
In May 2018, Lahiru Kumara received national recognition when he was among the 33 cricketers awarded a national contract by Sri Lanka Cricket ahead of the 2018–19 season. This contract highlighted his status as a valuable asset to Sri Lankan cricket.
Despite his promising career, Kumara faced disciplinary issues in November 2018, which led to his removal from Sri Lanka’s Test squad for their series against England. This setback served as a reminder of the challenges young talents like Kumara may face as they navigate the demands of international cricket.
In January 2019, Kumara was named in Sri Lanka’s Twenty20 International (T20I) squad for a one-off T20I against New Zealand. He made his T20I debut on January 11, 2019, against New Zealand. However, his early international career was plagued by injuries, and he sustained a hamstring injury during the Test series against Australia in Brisbane. This injury forced him to miss the second Test against Australia in Canberra and the subsequent tour of South Africa.
In September 2021, Lahiru Kumara’s talent earned him a place as one of four reserve players in Sri Lanka’s squad for the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. His potential to make an impact on the global stage was undeniable, and this reserve selection was a testament to his growing reputation.
In October 2021, Kumara’s journey in T20 World Cup cricket began when he was included in Sri Lanka’s main 15-man squad. His debut in the tournament against Namibia on October 18, 2021, was marked by a stellar bowling performance, where he claimed 2 wickets and ended the match with impressive figures of 2-9 from 3.3 overs.
Lahiru Kumara’s cricketing journey is a remarkable tale of a young fast bowler’s rise to prominence. His incredible pace, determination, and ability to perform consistently across all formats of the game have earned him a special place in Sri Lankan cricket. While his career has had its share of ups and downs, Kumara’s journey is far from over. As he continues to mature and refine his skills, he has the potential to become one of Sri Lanka’s most valuable assets in fast bowling. His story serves as an inspiration to aspiring cricketers, showcasing that talent, hard work, and resilience can propel them to great heights in the world of international cricket.