Theekshana’s unconventional brand of off-spin is the talk of the town. Interestingly, had it not been for a hamstring injury, he would have been a fast bowler.
“I was a fast bowler when I started my career. I got injured at the age of 13. It was a bad hamstring injury,” Theeksana told TOI on the sidelines of Sri Lanka’s practice session.
Forced to make a big decision just when he had become a teenager, Theekshana decided to bowl spin to avoid serious injuries. “At that time, I watched how Ajantha Mendis was bowling. I started looking up to him,” he said. It’s not a surprise that the 22-year-old’s action seems modelled on Mendis.
The injury wasn’t the only hurdle in his career. Theekshana was part of Sri Lanka’s U-19 team in 2016-17, but was discarded on fitness grounds. “In Sri Lanka we have certain fitness levels. We have to maintain that. I was very fat,” he said with a straight face.
How fat? “I had to lose 27 kg. It took me five-six months,” he said. “I got myself fit and ready in 2019. Then I played one practice match for Sri Lanka ‘A’ against Ireland. I got a chance in the Lankan Premier League (LPL). I played my first LPL match in Dec 2020.
“Then I got a chance to play T10 in Abu Dhabi,” Theekshana said before proudly adding: “Finally, on Sept 7 last year, I made my Sri Lanka debut against South Africa.”
T20 can be brutal on bowlers but Theekshana says he is always up for a fight. “If we bowl a good line and length, nothing’s a big challenge. Still, I haven’t found any batsman hard to bowl at. We have to stick to basics.”
Is there a contest he looks forward to? “I already had the chance to bowl to Mahi (MS Dhoni at Chennai Super Kings). That was the first thing I wanted to do when I started playing cricket,” he said, smiling.
Going by the start he gave the Lankans on Tuesday, it was a good day in the office for Theekshana.