DateLine: 20th February 2007
A highly talented leg spinner and useful tail end batsman, Malinga Bandara impressed while at school and seemed marked for great things as he made his way up through the Under-19 and A ranks. He was given the big break at 18 when he made his Test debut against New Zealand at Colombo. But he was obviously not yet ready to make the grade successfully and was discarded. Far from discouraged, Bandara worked hard on improving his bowling and a match haul of 11 for 126 against England A in 2005 showed that he was back to his confidence self. He finally played a Test more than seven years after his inaugural game in India on the 2005-06 tour when he played in all three matches picking up nine wickets and providing able support to Muthiah Muralitharan. From then on he has been in the regular scheme of things in both forms of the game playing in 19 ODIs within six months in 2006. The same year he had a successful stint with Gloucestershire when the county was looking for a mid season replacement for his teammate and fellow leg spinner Upul Chandana. Improving with every game Bandara ended up heading the averages with 39 wickets from seven matches at 25.15 apiece.