‘Oshada reminded me of Mahela’ – SL selector thrilled with new crop

“He took no risks. He reminded me of Mahela, just placing it over extra cover, very risk-free batting,” de Mel said of Oshada. “As a chief selector I was happy because we were able to give these guys a chance. Because sometimes what happens is we take them on the tour but we’re not able to actually give them a chance.”

De Mel however reserved his highest praise for legspinning allrounder Hasaranga. Still just 22, the youngster from Galle has been a revelation in recent times, and finally looks poised to carry over his domestic form to the national side.

Hasaranga was among the few Sri Lankan bowlers to threaten Pakistan’s batsmen in the ODI series, picking up three wickets in two games, but he really came into his own in the T20Is, taking eight wickets at an average of 9.87. While he is still to show off his prowess with the bat in national colours, an average of 45.46 in first-class cricket means it’s possibly only a matter of time.

“For me Wanindu [Hasaranga] is the most improved player that I’ve seen this year. Whether it’s batting, bowling, fielding, the confidence he has is now fantastic.”

For de Mel, now comes the unenviable task of picking the best possible squad. Though he explained that he had made it clear to the players that opted out of the tour that they ran the risk of losing their spot if some of the younger guys took their chance.

“In this particular instance I spoke to the [SLC] president [Shammi Silva] and he was also agreeable that we give these boys a chance, and they have now given the selectors food for thought. When it comes to selecting the squad for Australia we will have to take these performances into consideration. Because like I told the guys who didn’t go, if the guys who go perform then one or two of the guys who didn’t may have to get left out. Form matters.”