Unlike the conventional image of an effective fast bowler, Sri Lankan pacer Nuwan Kulasekara was not lanky or well-built but he had the power to control the ball. He could swing the ball both ways and went to create problems for batters across the world with his accurate line and length before saying goodbye to international cricket in 2019. As the cricketer celebrates his 39th birthday today, we look back on his illustrious career and list a few facts about him.
1) While the cricketer may have had a career that many would only dream of, Kulasekara never aspired to be a fast bowler. He was happily playing softball cricket at beaches, but life had greater things in store for him.
2) ODI debut: It was November 2003- and 21-year Kulasekara was making his debut against one of the strongest international ODI sides, England. However, the young lad was up for making most of this opportunity and delivered a great spell picking up 2 wickets while giving just 19 runs in his 9 overs. England was bundled up for 88 runs and Sri Lanka won the game by 10 wickets.
3) Despite an impressive debut, Kulasekara struggled to fix his place in the Sri Lankan fast bowling lineup that included the likes of Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando and Farveez Mahroof. It was the same time when Lasith Malinga was bursting out on the cricketing scene.
4) From being in and out of the team during his initial year, Kulasekara quickly went to become the number 1 bowler in ICC ODI bowler ranking in 2009.
5) Kulasekara was the bowler who was bowling the 49th over of the Indian innings in 2012 World Cup final when captain MS Dhoni hit that historic six to seal the cup. Later the Sri Lankan pacer went on to play under Dhoni’s captaincy for IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings.
6) He went through a streak of final losses from 2007 to 2012. The team ended up on the losing side finals of the 2007 World Cup, World T20 Championship 2009, World Cup 2011, and World T20 Championship 2012. However, the run of losing the finals came to end after the team managed to beat India in the final of the 2014 T20 World Cup. Kulasekara gave 29 runs to pick 1 wicket in his 4 overs.
7) Kulasekara had a shorter Test career and played only 21 games to pick 48 wickets before saying goodbye to the red-ball cricket in 2016. He continued to play ODIs and T20 till 2017 before making the announcement of his retirement after the Bangladesh tour that year. While he picked up 199 wickets in 184 ODIs, Kulasekara finished off his T20 career as the highest wicket-taker for Sri Lanka with 66 wickets in 58 games.