Dasun Shanaka Steps Down from Sri Lanka Captaincy, Aims to Prepare Next Leader for World Cup

Dasun Shanaka, known for his infectious smile on and off the field, has recently stepped down from the captaincy of the Sri Lankan national team. Despite his decision, Shanaka continues to make an impact, contributing to Khulna Tigers’ unbeaten start in this year’s BPL. In an exclusive conversation with Cricbuzz in Sylhet, Shanaka shared insights on his captaincy journey, praised the emergence of young talents like Wanindu Hasaranga, and discussed his future plans.

Reflecting on his tenure as captain, Shanaka emphasized his goal of revitalizing Sri Lankan cricket during a challenging period. “At that time, no one was interested in Sri Lankan cricket,” Shanaka remarked. “We were losing to every team. My aim was to build a cohesive team, perform consistently, and attract the crowd and community back to cricket in Sri Lanka. To some extent, we achieved that.”

Shanaka credited his leadership for instilling confidence in emerging talents like Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Dushmantha Chameera, and Matheesha Pathirana. “I provided them with assurance that nothing would happen to them, whether they succeeded or failed,” Shanaka explained. “They repaid the faith I had in them.”

Speaking about Wanindu Hasaranga’s role, Shanaka highlighted the all-rounder’s cricketing intelligence and athleticism. “Hasaranga has a good cricketing sense and is a natural athlete,” Shanaka praised. “I just had to set the plan, and he executed it flawlessly.”

When asked about his decision to step down from captaincy, Shanaka expressed confidence in the young talent pool and the need to groom a leader for the upcoming World Cup. “These youngsters are performing well, and it’s the right time to step aside,” Shanaka stated. “I will continue to support them and offer advice. We need to prepare someone for the next World Cup, and I believe this is the best time to do so.”

Reflecting on his unexpected journey to captaincy, Shanaka recalled being surprised when handed the captaincy during a tour to Pakistan. “Senior players had rejected the tour, and suddenly I was announced as the captain,” Shanaka recounted. “We won 3-0, and after that, Lasith Malinga became the captain again for the Australia tour. My name resurfaced after winning against Pakistan, but I never expected to be a captain because I was not a permanent player. Everything happened for a reason, and I am grateful for the opportunity.”

Regarding his absence from the 2025 Champions Trophy, Shanaka maintained a positive outlook, acknowledging the evolving nature of cricket and the rise of associate nations. “Cricket has evolved, and facilities in other countries have improved,” Shanaka observed. “Associate nations like Germany may soon be among the top 10 teams with the right structures in place.”

Shanaka also addressed criticisms following Sri Lanka’s loss in the Asia Cup final to India, attributing his performance to a tennis elbow injury. “I had injuries that affected my batting during the Asia Cup,” Shanaka revealed. “I couldn’t hit boundaries as I usually do. Despite this, I remained calm and focused. Critics don’t bother me; I am thankful for the support of the fans.”

Looking ahead to the upcoming series against Bangladesh and the T20 World Cup, Shanaka expressed optimism about Sri Lanka’s chances. “We respect Bangladesh’s cricketing prowess, but we are focused on playing our best cricket,” Shanaka stated. “The pitches in the USA and West Indies may suit our style of play, but our batsmen need to perform well to support our strong bowling lineup.”

In closing, Shanaka predicted that Wanindu Hasaranga would exhibit even greater aggression as a leader. “Hasaranga has a hunger to win,” Shanaka affirmed. “He will be more aggressive than anyone else on the field.”

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