Forgotten Heros: Aravinda Desilva

"ARAVINDA DESILVA"

If at all you remember this name I'm sure you would have started following cricket prior to 1996.. The first time I saw this batsman called "Desilva" was way back in 1994 when SriLanka met West Indies in the Hero Cup in India..(yeah! Hero cup! remember Kumble 12/6?). In that match Windies conveniently won over the Lankans who were then carrying a  minnow tag. Though the result of the match was not surprising one batsman particularly caught my attention not for for his shots but for a peculiar reason of breaking his bat into two pieces.  In the series further Desilva was the major contributor with the bat for his side and many times was the only contributor.. I consider Desilva as the Abhimanyu of Srilanka who was all alone in the enemy lines fighting hard without giving it up.. thats when I started respecting first and admiring later!
He was not as stylish as Lara or a Sachin. however, he is tough, rigid and always tried to attack bowlers.. He was the one of those players who made Sri Lankans believe that they can make it big at the international arena.. His test highest of 267 was against Kiwis at Basin Reserve way back in 1991. It was in this phase from early 1990s to 1996 that Sri Lankan team went through painful defeats learning the "Art of Winning" and finally they declared their arrival as a strong team in 1996 permanently shedding the tag of minnows. In this process of building a winning team out of nowhere Aravinda's contribution was enormous and unforgettable.. he is their first stalwart who went after opposition bowlers.. He is the man who taught the young bunch to go after the bowlers.. thats precisely the reason why Jayasuriya calls him as his all time favourite player.  
Aravinda made his debut against England at Lord's in 1984 and played cricket till 2003 world cup which means a career spanning 19 years.. In any sport playing at international level for such long tenure demands an exceptional commitment coupled with very high degree of passion. It is with this passion for cricket that he has hung around the Sri Lankan cricket and now serving as an administrator..
Finding an aggressive captain like Arjuna Ranatunga was a certain boost for an attacking player like Aravinda. 

The 1996 worldcup:
If at all there is a list of golden moments for the Emarald's Isle, the 1996 world cup would definitely have a place in them. No one considered them as a potential candidates for the world cup.. Whole world was euphoric about the Indian chances of world cup, South African strategies and the Aussi jauggernuts but in the end it was Sri Lanka who emerged triumphant... Aravinda played a big big role in this achievement.. starting from his quick fire century against Kenya to the unbeaten ton in the final he was just unstoppable! In both semis as well as the finals it was Aravinda who took the game away from the opposition but I fail to understand why Jayasuriya is credited as the fire of the world cup instead of Aravinda.. All the champions are co‌ined so because they deliver in the big moments, they come to party at the critical junctures, they handle the "big" pressure in their own way.. Now lets see Aravinda's performance in 1996 WC final: 3 wickets, 2 catches and 107*.. can you expect anything more from him? and that too two of the wickets are Mark Taylor, Ricky Ponting and the catch is of  leading edge of Steve Waugh's bat..
On a personal front also Aravinda was never in any controversies.. I remember Sachin mentioning Aravinda's cordial help to the Indian players in the need of the hour..   Aravinda's last test was in 2002 where in he made a double century and took a wicket with the last ball of his career.. can there be a farewell better than this? one can find his whole career stats here
Aravinda made his debut against England at Lord's in 1984 and played cricket till 2003 world cup which means a career spanning 19 years.. In any sport playing at international level for such long tenure demands an exceptional commitment coupled with very high degree of passion. It is with this passion for cricket that he has hung around the Sri Lankan cricket and now serving as an administrator..

Overall, I salute Aravinda for his services to the beautiful game of CRICKET..
Sarvejana Sukhinobhavatu

-Karthik

Comments

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