Punjab Kings' Bhanuka Rajapaksa Scores Maiden IPL Fifty

Bhanuka Rajapaksa, a powerful left-handed middle-order batsman, gained attention in 2010 as the top run-scorer in the under-19 World Cup. He won the 'Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year' and 'Young Emerging U-19 Player' awards the following year.

Despite being related to former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, Bhanuka Rajapaksa had to wait ten years before making his national debut. 

Bhanuka Rajapaksa IPL Promising Performances 2023

Punjab Kings set a competitive total of 191/5 against Kolkata Knight Riders in the second match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, held at Mohali's PCA IS Bindra Stadium. A key moment in Punjab's innings was the 86-run partnership between Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Shikhar Dhawan. Meanwhile, Varun Chakravarthy's leg-spin was notably effective for KKR.

In his seventh tournament match, Prabhsimran Singh, opening with Dhawan, contributed to a brisk start despite a brief innings. The Patiala native scored 23 runs, including two boundaries and two sixes, before being dismissed by Tim Southee.

As the pacers struggled, Nitish Rana turned to spinner Sunil Narine in the fourth over, but Rajapaksa countered with two fours and a six off Narine's over. Punjab reached 56 runs in the powerplay, and after fielding restrictions ended, Shardul Thakur was introduced. Rajapaksa aggressively targeted Thakur, making a strong statement in his first over.

The next three overs yielded 31 runs, pushing Punjab past 100 at the halfway point. Rajapaksa completed his maiden IPL fifty in the 11th over but was soon dismissed by Umesh Yadav. Jitesh Sharma then took the offensive, hitting two sixes before being outsmarted by Southee's slower ball.

Early Life

Inspired by Australian cricketer Adam Gilchrist, Bhanuka Rajapaksa consistently performed in Sri Lanka's domestic circuit. He first showcased his skills in the 2010 U19 World Cup, finishing as Sri Lanka's highest run-scorer. Although his playing style doesn't ensure consistency in longer formats, it is well-suited for limited-overs cricket. Despite debuting domestically in 2009, he only represented Sri Lanka a decade later during a tour of Pakistan, where many senior players declined to participate due to security concerns. Rajapaksa impressed with a Man of the Match performance, scoring 77 off 48 balls in the second T20I.

Setbacks and Triumphs

Unfortunately, Bhanuka Rajapaksa was not selected for the 2019 World Cup and was controversially dropped from the England and West Indies tours in 2021. Deemed unfit by then Head Coach Micky Arthur, he was criticised as a "comfort zone cricketer" after failing skin fold tests to certify fitness standards. Frustrated, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, aged 30, decided to retire but reversed his decision at the sports minister's request.

Bhanuka Rajapaksa was later selected to play in the ODI series, against Australia. He showcased his skills as a finisher and his standout moment arrived during the 2022 Asia Cup. He played innings against India and Bangladesh scoring a 71 in the final against Pakistan. His valuable contribution played a role in Sri Lanka's comeback from a score of 58/5 to achieve a commendable total of 170 runs. 

Punjab Kings drafted Rajapaksa into the IPL in 2022, aligning with their aggressive playing style. Although his fearless approach did not always yield results, it provided entertaining cricket for IPL fans.

Who is Bhanuka Rajapaksa? 
Bhanuka Rajapaksa is a Sri Lankan cricketer known for his aggressive left-handed batting in the middle order.
When did Bhanuka Rajapaksa make his international debut? 
Bhanuka Rajapaksa made his international debut during Sri Lanka's tour of Pakistan in 2019.
Why was Bhanuka Rajapaksa dropped from the Sri Lanka squad in 2021? 
Bhanuka Rajapaksa was dropped due to fitness issues and failing to comply with the skin fold tests required to certify fitness standards.