Bhanuka Rajapaksa got off to a great start in his Tata Indian Premier League career with a 43 off 22 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Punjab Kings’ first game, reserving special treatment for his countryman Wanindu Hasaranga’s wily googlies. He sure knows how to make a mark with the opportunities he’s got.
In a recent interview with ESPN Cricinfo, Rajapaksa opened up about being a part of PBKS, making the most of the opportunities he got, the training and work culture at the team camp, and more. Below are some excerpts from the same.
On the immediate big-hitting
In the Tata IPL so far, Rajapaksa has scored at a strike rate of 230.56 making it no secret that his approach to the game has been attacking to say the least. He opens up about his role in the team. “The good thing with this team is that they know I have the ability and they know I could be batting anywhere from No. 1 to No. 7. In this era there's a lot of wrist spinners and they come to try and dominate the middle overs. Unfortunately I wasn't able to face those wrist spinners in the last couple of games, because I've been going hard and getting out,” he said,
“But one thing PBKS have told me is to go hard. That's going to be our role this year. There are going to be days when we get 200-plus runs. And there are going to be days when we'll get out for 75 or 80. We have accepted that. But we want to go hard. We've got the freedom to express ourselves. We don't keep meeting for hours and hours, and we don't analyse for days,” he further explained.
On the coaching system at PBKS
From Head Coach Anil Kumble to the power-hitting coach Julian Wood, PBKS have a solid group behind the squad that takes the field every match day. “We've got a power-hitting coach, Woody [Julian Wood]. It's something that I've done for the first time in my life. I've been in the system back home for a good ten years, but this is something very new for me.”
He also spoke about making the best use of the facilities here. “We might not be able to get the same facilities from SLC back home, but at least being given the opportunity to come and experience that here, and have that exposure [is good]. Then we can share that experience back home. With Woody we've been doing different drills, and you can see that's helping us as players.”
“Looking forward, it would be good to have this sort of set-up at home. It would help the boys. I've always felt like I was a rioter who would go and fight for the rights of the boys. I would still do that. I feel like we need the right people to come and support Sri Lanka. If we can get these sorts of coaches who are recognised, we could go a long way in our system back home,” he further added.
It is just the beginning for Rajapaksa in the Tata IPL. He is exciting to watch, dependable for the team, and sure has a bright future ahead. Making the best of the opportunities available here at the PBKS camp will help him go a long way for sure, and he does look like he wants to take bits of his experience back home.