When Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) announced the launch of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) tournament, it was always considered as an ideal opportunity for the youngsters to get the much needed exposure before they encounter challenges ahead, mainly at international level. The exposure undoubtedly paves the way for them to show their capabilities to the [...]


Nimesh Vimukthi’s journey of courage


When Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) announced the launch of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) tournament, it was always considered as an ideal opportunity for the youngsters to get the much needed exposure before they encounter challenges ahead, mainly at international level. The exposure undoubtedly paves the way for them to show their capabilities to the global audience.

Nimesh Vimukthi

Among the youngsters who emerged from the LPL is Nimesh Vimukthi, whose performances were in the spotlight for his accuracy and consistency with the ball. He claimed 10 wickets in six matches during his debut season for Kandy Warriors at an average of 11.40.

The LPL success has been a reward for commitment and dedication he has shown ever since he dreamt of becoming a professional cricketer at the tender age of seven. Vimukthi’s story is an example to show how passion and desire to succeed can be the driving force to make one’s dream a reality.

Despite being determined to fulfil his childhood dream, his family had to undergo several financial difficulties during the first few years of his cricketing journey. Although it was a daunting task for his family, they were quick to understand Vimukthi’s passion and enthusiasm towards the sport.

“When I started my journey my family had to do a lot of sacrifices. Especially my mother had to earn money to cover my cricketing expenses. Despite all that my mother looked after me and has been a pillar of strength in enabling me to make my great dream a reality,” he recalled.

Vimukthi started his school career at the St. Anthony’s Boys’ School in Panadura. He was groomed and nurtured under the supervision of his first coach Basil Jinendra. His coach was a father figure to him, the one who kept encouraging Vimukthi to continue the sport despite financial difficulties. Most of the times his coach rendered the service without charging a fee as he saw the qualities of a successful cricketer in Vimukthi.

Vimukthi was always encouraged to do hours of spot bowling under the guidance of his coach Jinendra and his assistant Pubudu Suranjana. After a successful start at the St. Anthony’s, Vimukthi moved to Mahanama Vidyalaya, Panadura. It was his own decision to change schools as he considered it as an ideal opportunity to improve his cricketing skills.

During this time numerous schools had invited him after seeing his ability as an all-rounder. But the youngster stood firm in his decision of continuing his school cricket career under his long standing coach Basil Jinendra.

Along with his coach, national cricketer Akila Dananjaya has been influential in his journey. Dananjaya who is also an old boy of Mahanama Vidyalaya, has given young Vimukthi several bowling tips that helped him to evolve as a leg spinning all-rounder. During his time at Mahanama, he won the award for the best all-rounder in the 2013/14 school cricket season at the Under-19 level.

His school’s cricket career continued to prosper as he began to show his versatility as an all-rounder. In his last season Vimukthi bagged 77 wickets and scored 800 runs. These prolific performances at school level helped him to enter the Under-23 squad of Panadura Sports Club. He immediately showed his capabilities taking 35 wickets in six matches.

Soon after he entered the Sri Lanka Under-19 pool in 2016, but was unfortunate to miss out on the opportunity to represent his country at that level. Despite not being able to prosper at national youth level, he continued to grow under the shades of the former national cricketer Chamara Silva, who was the captain of Panadura SC at that time. Due to his extraordinary abilities as a fielder, he was selected to play his first game solely as a fielder.

A year later he joined Police Sports Club. Initially it was tough to get a place in the team since they had less trust about his abilities. It was Senior Superintendent Kamal Pushpakumara who convinced the team officials of Police SC to get Vimukthi into the team. Fortunately Vimukthi was able to prove his critics wrong. He claimed nine wickets and scored 38 runs with the bat in his first match. Thereafter he went on to be the best all-rounder of the Tier ‘B’ category in the 2017/18 season.

During that time he got an opportunity to play league cricket in England. He played for Bishop Auckland in North Yorkshire and South Durham Cricket League in 2018. In that season Vimukthi scored 775 runs and claimed 55 wickets. He played a crucial role in Bishop Auckland’s victorious campaign to be crowned as the champions after nine long years.

In the following year Vimukthi moved to Philadelphia Cricket Club where he went on to take 75 wickets and scored 975 runs including a century. Vimukthi’s brilliance as an all-rounder helped Philadelphia CC to be promoted to Champions League Minor County Division 1.

He returned home after completing two successful stints in England and joined Chilaw Marians as a net bowler. But the president of the club had a close eye on him and eventually Vimukthi was selected for the Under-23 Emerging Club Tournament. He managed to live up to the expectations, picking up six wickets in the first match itself.

From their onwards he became an integral part of Chilaw Marians, becoming the main left-arm leg-spinner of the team in the season 2019/20, where he took 87 wickets for them.

Despite his successful stint with Chilaw Marians, he decided to leave the club with the aim of taking his game to the next level. Vimukthi returned to the club of his hometown, where he made his first class debut six years before.

Due to his consistency in the domestic arena, Vimukthi was picked by the Kandy Warriors franchise during the second edition of LPL, where he was able to show glimpses of his capabilities as a spinner. It was the first time he had played under lights.

“It was my mother’s dream to watch me playing in a major tournament along with international players and personally it was a great tournament for me. Captain Angelo Perera always gave me the confidence to deliver under pressure. The experience that I gained from LPL is invaluable. This tournament helped me to understand the difference between playing domestic cricket and playing franchise tournaments with international players. There is a vast difference in the manner which we play. There is a lot to learn from the international players, which is a great benefit for the youngsters including myself,” said the 24-year-old.

Vimukthi follows Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and treats him as his idol. This is the footstep Vimukthi wishes to follow as he aims to become Sri Lanka’s top spinning all-rounder.

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