Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka head coach Chandika Hathurusingha has admitted that spinner Akila Dananjaya reminds him of a young Muttiah Muralitharan.
Hathurusingha’s major compliment for Dananjaya comes after the 24-year-old took eight wickets on his Test debut against Bangladesh earlier this month.
In addition to that, he took a five-for in the second innings, which made him just the third Sri Lankan player to take a five-wicket haul on debut.
Furthermore, his match figures of 8-44 broke the record for the best bowling figures by a Sri Lankan debutant.
“He reminds me of young Murali because his off-spin is ideal for Test cricket, the loop, the speed that he bowls and the lines he bowls are for Test cricket,” Hathurusingha told The Daily News. “He can bowl a few other balls as well.
“I am not saying that he is going to play in every Test match going forward but whenever we think we need someone to suit the conditions, we know that we have someone special.”
The 49-year-old also admitted that he was surprised about how dominant his side were during their tour of Bangladesh.
Not only did Sri Lanka win the ODI tri-series, which involved Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, but they also beat Bangladesh 1-0 in the Test series and whitewashed them 2-0 in the Twenty20 series that followed.
“Not surprised by the results but surprised by the improvement we showed in a short space of time,” Hathurusingha said. “I was surprised by the way we played and the dominance that we showed there. I expected to win but I also expected a lot more fight from Bangladesh, especially in the ODIs and Tests.”
When asked what the team needs to do to take the next step forward, the Colombo native said: “We have a lot of areas we can still improve. One thing is we need to believe that we are good enough and [have] the confidence.
“We have a lot of injuries and we need to manage that, it is something to address. From last month or so we have changed the ways we trained. That is going to help us to maximise our potential and help us to win all the time.”