Colombo, Oct 12 (SocialNews.XYZ) Legendary Sri Lankan cricketer Mahela Jayawardene has said he sees all the qualities of a leader in young allrounder Wanindu Hasaranga, who has made the cricket world take notice of his talent through his performances in the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE and the recently-concluded Asia Cup.
Hasaranga surprised one and all in the 2021 T20 World Cup by picking up 16 wickets to finish as the top wicket-taker in the event. He carried that form into the new year, playing a key role in the island nation's success in the Asia Cup in the UAE.
The 25-year-old was the second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament with nine scalps and also chipped in with 66 runs, including 36 and 3/27 in the final against Pakistan and guiding the side to the title in the UAE. Jayawardene also drew parallels between Hasaranga meteoric rise and that of Sri Lanka pace great Lasith Malinga.
"In the last 12 months, he (Hasaranga) has shown how mature he is -- not just as a bowler but with the bat as well. In tough situations, he has really come and delivered," Jayawardene said on The ICC Review.
"But as a leader in that group, even if he doesn't have the title as the vice-captain or the captain or anything like that, but underneath all of that he has become a leader who all the young guys look up to."
Jayawardene has known Hasaranga since he was a 19-year-old, thanks to former team-mate Chaturanga de Silva, Hasaranga's brother, according to ICC.
"To be honest, his brother was actually playing cricket while we were playing cricket as well," Jayawardene said. "So Wanindu was much younger, was playing Under-19 cricket when we were finishing off and then he started playing first-class cricket.
"We always knew that this guy can bowl and bat, but we never knew the quality of bowler he could turn out to be. I mean initially, he didn't have the accuracy but he always had some X-factor about him, how he went about things. That's where Sri Lanka invested in him when he was quite young, especially in white-ball cricket."
Jayawardene added he saw a lot of similarities between Hasaranga and Malinga -- both in the way they started off quietly and then blossomed into lynchpin of the Sri Lankan side.
"The way he has blossomed... he's also from down south, quite close to where Lasith was (Galle) and they have similar mannerisms," Jayawardene added.
"The way they both came out, they started their careers quietly -- you know, sat in the corner of the dressing room -- and little by little they grew. The hairstyles change, the tattoos came out and the whole thing.
"It (Hasaranga's development) is quite similar to how Lasith became who Lasith was, and that's how I see the way Wanindu has blossomed as a player."
The biggest similarity between the two is their fierce competitiveness, added Jayawardene. "The most important thing is, once they cross the field, like Lasith, he is a competitor -- that's what I love about him," Jayawardene said.