Ever since the retirement of batting artistes Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena and Tillekaratne Dilshan, Sri Lanka’s T20 cricketers have collectively become a non-entity at the Indian Premier League (IPL) save the likes of Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews and Asela Gunaratne.
Malinga is probably on his last legs for the Mumbai Indians at the age of 33 and struggling to be his old self.
The present set-up for the Sri Lankans is a far cry from the inaugural IPL in 2008 when more than half a dozen players were snapped up by high profile franchise owners including Sanath Jayasuriya who bagged a million dollars from his Mumbai Indian bosses.
Today apart from Malinga, Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews stands out as the only consistent bet for investors in the IPL and will turn out for Delhi Daredevils in the 2017 season.
Although not the best when it comes to matching the standard of players in the mould of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers who play for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mathews can raise his head as the only Sri Lankan respected by IPL owners.
For the diehard Sri Lankan follower, it must have been refreshing news that 31-year old Asela Gunaratne was taken note of by IPL owners after he singlehandedly led Sri Lanka to victory in the second T20 match against Australia last week with some bulls-eye hitting to turn the target of 173 in the 19th over. It came just on the eve of the IPL player auction. Talk of luck and Gunaratne had it.
Gunaratne was bagged by the Mumbai Indians and the experts can only hope that the fate that befell another all-rounder Thisara Perera does not engulf Gunaratne in the IPL.
Perera slumped in form and could be consigned to history very soon if he continues to struggle to play the big shots.
The fact that Sri Lanka has no competitive domestic T20 tournament has also contributed to the downward slide where no wholesome players can come through a system.