No farewell match for retiring Nuwan Kulasekara?

Sports Minister Harin Fernando says that Sri Lanka’s third match in the upcoming ODI series against Bangladesh will be dedicated to retiring fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara, but said it is unlikely he will play in that match.

The home series against the Tigers will see two of Sri Lanka’s fast bowling legends bid farewell to the game as the first game in the series will be pacer Lasith Malinga’s final ODI match. However, he will continue to play Twenty20 International cricket for a while longer.

Kulasekara has also reportedly announced his retirement from international cricket.

Responding to a question from journalists at a press briefing on Tuesday (23), the minister said that he had made a request to give Nuwan Kulasekara one of the three matches in the ODI series against Bangladesh to play his farewell.

However, the selection committee has informed him that there is a practical issue because Kulasekara has not played any domestic matches for a long period of time and therefore it will be difficult to include him into the squad.

Fernando said that Sri Lankan legend Lasith Malinga will play the first match of the ODI series, which will be his farewell as he retires from one-day international cricket.

He also said that the third and final match of the series will be a massive “tribute” to Nuwan Kulasekara and that the final match will be dedicated to him. Necessary preparations are being made for this, he added.

However, the minister said that he doubts Kulasekara will get a chance to play in that game.

“I cannot interfere with the administration and tell them to allow a cricketer to play,” Fernando said.

He said that they have made a request to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) on a ministry level to dedicate the final match to Kulasekara as a sendoff.

Accordingly, Malinga will play his last ODI, when Sri Lanka meets Bangladesh at the RPICS, Colombo on the 26th July, 2019.

The third and final match which is to be dedicated to Kulasekara will take place on 31st July at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.

T20 World Cup-winning pacer Nuwan Kulasekara, 37, was not part of Sri Lanka’s World Cup 2019 squad and last played for the senior national team in 2017. Kulasekara hadn’t played competitive cricket at the senior level since March 2018 during which he played List-A cricket.

Known for his ability to swing the ball both ways, Nuwan Kulasekara was a successful new-ball bowler for Sri Lanka in the limited-over formats. Not just with the new-ball, Kulasekara was a fine bowler at the death as well as the pacer had the ability to fire in accurate yorkers under pressure.

Kulasekara made his ODI debut as a 21-year-old in a home series against England in 2003. Two year later, the right-arm fast bowler went on to make his Test debut in Napier.

Kulasekara played 184 ODIs for Sri Lanka and picked up 199 wickets at an impressive economy rate of 4.90. The right-arm pacer played 58 T20Is and finished with 66 wickets. Kulasekara was part of the victorious Sri Lanka team that clinched the T20 World Cup in 2014.

The 37-year-old played just 21 Test matches before calling it quits from the longest format of the game in 2016.

Kulasekara rose to the No. 1 spot in ODI bowlers’ rankings in 2008, a year after he made his World Cup debut for Sri Lanka. Kulasekara was part of Sri Lanka’s 3 World Cup squads.

He played 2 World Cup finals and finished with runners-up medals on both the occassions as the islaners lost to Australia and India in the 2007 and 2011 World Cup finals.