Pathum Nissanka: The young batter who can be Sri Lanka’s next big thing

Sri Lanka cricket has been going through a transitional phase ever since the 2015 World Cup which saw the emergence of some exceptional cricketing talents in the country. Among them is Pathum Nissanka who has been impressive with his consistent batting performances for a while.

Nissanka has managed to grab everyone’s attention after bursting onto the highest level last year and making a tremendous impact right away. As Nissanka turns 24 on May 18, here’s all you need to know about the island nation’s next big thing.

Pathum Nissanka: The rising star of Sri Lankan cricket

Cricket was indeed a farfetched dream for Nissanka, who hailed from a poor family. His father worked as a ground boy whereas his mother sold flowers near the Kalutara temple which is situated in the Galle Colombo main road.

However, a hungry and passionate Nissanka worked hard to realize his dreams by developing an interest for the game right from the school level. It was at the Kalutara Vidyalaya national school where he first started his cricket career. Riding on his consistent performances over the years, the top-order batter finally made his List-A debut for Hambantota District in the 2016-17 Districts One Day Tournament before making his Twenty20 debut, where he went on to represent Badureliya Sports Club in the 2017-18 SLC Twenty20 Tournament a year later.

The following year turned out to be a revival in the Galle cricketer’s fortunes as he was named in the Sri Lankan squad for the 2019 ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup. Apart from that, Nissanka was also named in the Lankan squad for the cricket tournament at the 2019 South Asian Games. Sri Lanka had a memorable competition where they clinched the silver medal after losing to Bangladesh in the final.

In early 2021, the youngster finally made his way into the national side and in March of that year, he became only the fourth Sri Lankan batter to score a century on Test debut. Nonetheless, what made the occasion even more special is that he became the first and only batter from the ‘Emerald Island’ to notch up his maiden Test ton away from home. He achieved this feat during the second innings of the first Test match in Antigua where he scored 103 runs.

Nissanka then went on to have a good ICC T20 World Cup campaign individually in the UAE where he amassed 221 runs from eight matches including three half-centuries. The 2014 champion, however, failed to progress beyond the group stages. With two major tournaments, Asia Cup and T20 World Cup later this year, Nissanka would be eager to make his bat do the talking with his brisk knocks.