Airtel Fastest unveils Sri Lanka’s next generation of pace bowlers

Thursday, 12 September 2019 01:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

 Airtel CEO/MD Jinesh Hegde (third from left) with Derana TV/Derana FM Group Director – Marketing Thushara Perera and Sri Lanka National Bowling Coach 

Anusha Samaranayake at the event

  • Top 14 announced in three categories: Boys Under 19 and Over 19, and Girls Open
  • One winner from each category will be announced on 27 September
  • Best female (Open category) and male (Over 19) bowlers will receive Rs. 500,000 each, while the Under 19 winner will receive Rs. 250,000

Closing in on the final stage of an island-wide hunt to discover Sri Lanka’s next generation of pace bowling talent, Airtel Fastest unveiled the top 14 finalists at a special event in Colombo yesterday.

“When the idea of Airtel Fastest was first discussed, it was apparent that there was a gap between talented young Sri Lankan fast bowlers, and the opportunities presented to showcase their talent. Since its inception in February it has really been heartening following the progress of these youngsters. Watching them develop, become more confident in their abilities, learn from their heroes and improve their mindset has truly been heartening. We expect great things from these youngsters so remember their names, and stay tuned for the finals of Airtel Fastest,” stated Airtel Lanka CEO/MD Jinesh Hegde.

The Airtel Fastest finalists comprise of Vishmi Dewmini, Malsha Madushani, Methma Hettiarachchi and Shayani Senarathne in the Girls Open category, while Eshan Malinga, Mohammed Akil, Maleesha Duran, Janith Madushanka and Chiran Theekshana will fight it out in the finals in the Under 19 Boys category. The over 19 Boys category includes Mohammed Faheem, Rasanjana Aravindu, Chandula Sudampathi, Arun Prakash and Malindu Shehan.

Airtel Fastest commenced in February under the guidance of Sri Lanka’s National Bowling Coach Anusha Samaranayake, conducting open auditions across 11 districts in Sri Lanka with the goal of identifying gifted young boys and girls with the potential to eventually play for the national team. In the end, 145 fast bowlers were selected from three categories – Under 19 and Over 19 boys as well as an open category for girls. From the inaugural selection, the top 45 fastest were selected for the second round, which included coaching camps and sessions with Airtel’s ‘Super Star coaching team’ comprising of Samaranayake and current Sri Lankan T20 captain and legendary death bowling sensation, Lasith Malinga, together with icons of the Sri Lankan game, Chaminda Vaas, Hashan Tilakaratne and Upul Chandana.

“Ultimately, quality fast bowling boils down to training, fitness, technique and of course mindset. In working with these youngsters from the very beginning of Airtel Fastest — I too have been excited to track down boys and girls with such impressive raw ability and I really hope all of our finalists will go on to represent our motherland at the highest levels of the sport,” Samaranayake explained.

Derana TV/Derana FM Group Director – Marketing Thushara Perera said: “As an organisation with island-wide reach, we at Derana are proud to be able to uplift such a talented group of young bowlers and provide them with a national platform to develop and showcase their abilities while also creating excitement among an entire new generation of Sri Lankan youth. We want them to know that regardless of where they were born and raised, anyone who focuses on improving their abilities has a chance to compete in the big leagues. Their story started as aspiring school cricketers, and we look forward to the seeing the next chapters unfold as Season 1 of Airtel Fastest reaches its exciting conclusion.”

The grand finale of Airtel Fastest is scheduled to take place on 27 September where three of the final 14 will be crowned Sri Lanka’s fastest amateur bowlers. The winners in the girls’ and Over 19 boys’ categories will receive a cash prize of Rs. 500,000, while the Under 19 Boys category winner will take home Rs. 250,000.

Pix by Sameera Wijesinghe