Have Sri Lanka finally discovered a reliable Test player in Pathum Nissanka?

The Sri Lankan team was once a unit to marvel at. With the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Muttiah Muralitharan, Rangana Herath, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, the small island nation boasted of some of the best who have ever played the sport.

But once the names above grew old and the sunset upon them, the next batch found itself in a void. The recent crop of players has shone in patches, although suffering from inconsistency, they have often been unable to leave a mark on the world stage and carry forward the legacy left behind by the stalwarts.

From time to time, Sri Lanka has handed debuts to new players. In fact, they have handed Test caps to 22 players since 2016, and 6 of them have come in the last year. While all the players debuting in the longest format have had solid credentials in the First-Class level, not many of them have managed to translate that at the international stage.

The arrival of a solid batsman

It seems that one of the players, who has managed to counter this challenge is Pathum Nissanka, the right-hander who debuted against West Indies in the recent series. Nissanka’s staggering average of 64.45 for 3674 runs in 65 FC innings, including 14 centuries and as many half-centuries speaks for both his ability and deserving chance to play the longest format at the international level.

He debuted in an away series, in conditions that he was not known to, and he became the fourth Sri Lankan to notch up a century on Test debut. His 103-run knock included only six fours as he batted for 341 minutes, facing 252 balls and showing grit, composure, and temperament, all pre-requisites for a Test batter. He was out cheaply in the first innings, getting only 9 from 12 before falling to Kemar Roach when the team was wrapped up for merely 169.

After West Indies managed a crucial 102-run lead by scoring 271 in response, it was Nissanka’s century that anchored the innings alongside major contributions from Thirimanne, Oshada Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella, and Dhananjaya de Silva and the visitors responded with a massive 476 runs on the board after a poor show in the first innings.

Nissanka is only four Test matches and two series old, and while judging this early might not seem practical, his promising abilities have certainly made him a contender to not fade away like many others in the Sri Lankan circuit did in the recent past.