Pulina Tharanga Takes On The Field Of Under 19 International Cricket At The Asia Cup

From a poverty stricken background, struggling to make ends meet while at the same time, trying to find his special place in the world where his talent and skill could help him shine at cricket, Ashan Pulina Tharanga’s life was hard enough before the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. It was on this terrible day when over 40,000 Sri Lankan’s lost their lives that Pulina lost his mother too. Soon after, his father, a fisherman, went out to sea and was never seen again. Orphaned and poverty stricken, Pulina’s future may have turned out very bleak, but this young man had a gift. He also had a helping hand that would guide him along the way, and aid him in recognising his true potential while bringing a smile back to his face.

Pulina is a familiar figure within the Foundation of Goodness, being associated even prior to the tsunami at the age of 10 who has since then grown up to be a remarkable young man perusing his life ambition dream of representing the nation. His ability to play good cricket was identified by then Murali’s manager, also the founder of FoG, Kushil Gunasekera who made the connections to provide him the kind of scholarships to make better progress, especially post tsunami when he was orphaned by the sea. Furthermore, after the tsunami, when the FoG Sports Academy was inaugurated Pulina was part of the original Seenigama Cricket Academy Development Squad assembled to train and receive exposure doing things differently.

Being a regular member of the Ambalangoda Devananda College Cricket Team since he first joined their Under 11 team, and progressing upwards to the Under 19 team, he went on to score a maiden 50 in the first big match against arch rival Dharmasoka College which gretly impressed those who witnessed his innings. Pulina has also played with the Foundation of Goodness Cricket Team against much overseas opposition for a considerable period of time. Currently, he plays for the Under 23 Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club.

Subsequent to his school career Kushil introduced him to the club through the head of Under 23 cricket at Tamil Union Mr. Dinal Phillips, which enabled him to engage in the next level of cricket where he performed satisfactorily. Muthiah Muralidaran has also supported him with cricket equipment for greater development of his game. This was the period when he was chosen for the Sri Lanka Under 19 cricket pool, eventually making the Sri Lanka Under 19 national team for the very first time to tour India for the quadrangular series in October 2011 (India, West Indies, England and Sri Lanka)

Looking back, Pulina observes, “Kushil Sir spotted me and took me to Colombo with himself, He sacrificed everything for me, so that I could play cricket. He spent his own money to get me to where I am today. He took care of me like his own son”.

He has been a recipient of a scholarship since the age of 15 via the Foundation of Goodness, granted by the prestigious Marylebone Cricket Club in the UK. This was also the year in which he was recognised as the Under 15 Most Outstanding Cricketer runner-up at the all-island cricket tournament where he scored 420 runs and obtained 42 wickets in 08 matches. It was here that he first showcased his cricket prowess not only as an effective leg spin bowler but also as a dexterous all-rounder who could be depended upon to support his team from a variety of angles. Coincidentally his team mate, the other star of the Under 19 Sri Lankan cricket team, off spinner Tharindu Kaushal has also been sponsored from the same time by the Marylebone Cricket Club. Pulina has also been given an opportunity by the FoG to pursue English and computer skills, closely monitored by its sector head, Fazana Ibrahim.

“Cricket provides me with the reason to live and fight,” Pulina says. “This game is all that I have. I do not allow my ghosts to haunt me on the field. But the moment I step off it, I become the same scared boy who lost everything at a very young age. My dreams of playing for Sri Lanka one day keeps my mind off the past.”

His determination and perseverance has taken him to be a part of the National Under 19 Cricket Team and as we speak, he is on tour in Malaysia competing in the Under 19 Asia Cup which takes place between the 23rd of June and the 1st of July. This is not the first time he has represented Sri Lanka in Malaysia, his first time being as part of a Sri Lanka Schools Under 15 tour and subsequently selected by an Australian Academy team in Melbourne for the Under 15 KAF International Tournament where Muthiah Muralidaran was the chief guest. 

We wish Pulina the very best of luck, and know without a doubt that he possess the talent to take his dreams far. It is with this in mind that we eagerly follow and support his career, having featured him in a story four years ago, we are certain that this story will not be the last we write of his success.

It is imperative that we acknowledge those who have assisted Pulina on his way, as we must praise the bridge that carried him over to reach where he is today especially in the absence of his parents. The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and its head of Sri Lankan Charitable Endeavours, Mr. Tom Seabrook made available the sponsorships which gave him access to a variety of opportunities and the chance to pursue his cricketing aspirations. Mr. David Cruse who sponsored many of Pulina’s activities over the years including the supply of cricket equipment gave him ample chance to build his confidence. Gunn & Moore (G.M) (with special mention to CEO Peter Wright) as well as Rajiv & Ashan Malalasekera along with their friends, have also greatly aided his career and we wish to thank them all for the noble venture that they have been a part of.

To help someone help themselves and achieve their dream is a great thing in itself, but it is also a service to society as you help to enrich it with worthy and talented individuals who will add great value to the world we live in.

"“Set your goals high, and don't stop till you get there”"
- Bo Jackson






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