THE VIKINGS ARE COMING

Owner Lakmal Bandara

Coach Sadun Lankathilaka

Captain Dushan Bandara

Vice-Captain Prabhath Weerasooriya


What they’re like


Once a cultured, traditional, refined club of Icelanders, Reykjavík is now a restless, aggressive, marauding unit, dominated by the on-field charisma – and aggression – of Sadun Lankathilaka, a sharp practitioner of gamesmanship in the WG Grace style, with beard to match. There remains a big Sri Lankan flavour in the squad, with their core quintet of Sinhalese players largely intact, despite the signing of Chamley Fernando by Hafnarfjörður.


The batsmen


Max Sandaru is a good nudger and the perfect man to play second fiddle in a partnership, running the ball around for singles and giving the strike to the big hitter. Mahinda Dissanayake is a very experienced batsman in Icelandic conditions, and is best suited to an anchoring role in the top order. Lakmal Amaratunga is a classic strokemaker who has, at last, overcome a knee injury. His reintegration will have to be carefully managed but he has the potential to score attractive runs. Pradeep De is a relative newcomer, learning his skills, but a good man in the middle order and a decent fielder too. Ben Boorman is a fine hitter of the ball, but in bringing up a young family he has been absent from the game for several years; it is possible, even likely, that absence may yet continue. Asim Ayoub, once a sharp bowler but now restricted by injuries, is working hard on his middle-order batting and may yet be able to send down an accurate over or two.


The wicketkeeper


It looks like, after some concerns about his availability, Ravi Rawat will be around to don the gloves. He is a highly capable batsman who can keep the momentum going from the top of the order.


The all-rounder


Dushan Bandara rises head and shoulders above every other cricketer in Iceland. His devastating hitting, particularly off the back foot and square of the wicket, has set and then broken many Icelandic records. His pacy, accurate left-arm inswing is an invaluable part of the attack and keeps the scoring rate down. Any team he plays for must be a favourite for reaching the final of every competition.


The seamers


Sharing the new ball with Dushan Bandara will be Sadun Lankathilaka, the spearhead of the Icelandic national team’s attack. His nippy yorkers and economical line suit the Arctic game perfectly. Lakmal Bandara will bowl first change. Since an international tour in Malta in 2019, he has worked hard on variations and is now a much-improved and intelligent bowler. He will also score rapid and valuable runs, especially indoors in the Ashes. Backing these three up will be Vinoth Kalaiazhagan, a seam-bowling newcomer picked up at the auction.


The spinners


In Prabhath Weerasooriya, the Vikings have the most talented slow bowler in the country. He can bowl whippy leg breaks or conventional off-spin, with a host of subtle variations. He became the first Icelander to take a five-wicket innings during the ÍPL last year. Sathiya Rupan, freed from the shackles at Kópavogur where he had few opportunities to bowl, is a pure leg-spinner with the one attribute Weerasooriya lacks: big turn. Two new signings provide back-up to the frontline spinners: Arun Cheerankavil and Omar Safi Khan, both off-spinners who were added to the squad in January.


What they said


“We have a great side, if everyone’s available. The trouble is, I don’t think everyone’s available. Some guys want to play with their friends on other teams, so it’s difficult.” Sadun Lankathilaka


“It’s good that Dushan has a chance to be the captain for a change. I’ve captained so many times, and it’s smart to give young people opportunities.” Lakmal Bandara


“Actually, I think it will be him who’s learning from me. I’m going to teach him quite a few things he didn’t know, and I think it’ll help his captaincy of the Iceland team.” Dushan Bandara


Kit Harris’s prediction


They have the most accomplished bowling attack on paper, and the supreme domestic batsman in Dushan Bandara. Lakmal Bandara will score useful runs, as will Weerasooriya and Rawat from time to time, but if the opposition bowlers can get Dushan they’ll feel they have done the hardest bit.


If everyone’s available, I expect Reykjavík to have Rawat open with one of the anchoring batsmen, with Dushan Bandara coming in at first drop. Lakmal Bandara will float up and down the batting order according to the situation. I think De, as the newest batsman, and Boorman, as the least-available, will be the ones to miss out. Of the spin quartet, it seems probable that the more-experienced duo, Weerasooriya and Rupan, will play.


Probable XI: 1 Ravi Rawat (w), 2 Max Sandaru, 3 Dushan Bandara (c), 4 Mahinda Dissanayake, 5 Lakmal Amaratunga, 6 Asim Ayoub, 7 Lakmal Bandara, 8 Prabhath Weerasooriya, 9 Sathiya Rupan, 10 Vinoth Kalaiazhagan, 11 Sadun Lankathilaka.


On the bench: Pradeeep De, Ben Boorman (batsmen); Arun Cheerankavil, Omar Safi Khan (spinners).

207 views