Confident Karunaratne set for new highs

Rex Clementine

reporting from Pallekele

Sri Lanka’s long await for a successful opening combination seems to be over with Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva notching up some crucial knocks in the last few months. Players with contrasting styles, they have scored the bulk of the runs for Sri Lanka in the current series. In fact, the two openers are the highest scorers in the series from either side. Speaking to journalists after his second Test hundred yesterday, Karunaratne elaborated on how his game has evolved.

"When the series stared, I wanted to be the highest run scorer in the series. I have got lot of confidence after the New Zealand tour. I was struggling to get past 30 and 40, but now I know how to build up an innings and since seniors are also not there I need to show more responsibility," he said.

"I saw the wicket and it was a bit tough. So I told myself to bat through the first session. I was very choosy about which ball to put away. That was the key for me," he added.

"I batted well in the first couple of sessions. I wanted to get a big one. From the 70th over onwards I batted really well. I wanted to rotate the strike and score some runs. Chandi and I wanted to play till the end of the day. I played a bad shot and that’s why I had to go."

"The wicket had a bit of help for bowlers in the first two sessions. There’s something for fast bowlers even now. I thought we played well, but we gave up too many wickets in the last session. If we had given out only five wickets and scored 270 that would have been good. Tomorrow will be ideal for batting."

This is Sri Lanka’s first Test without their star batsman Kumar Sangakkara, who was only available for the first two Tests. Karunaratne admitted that the team missed the former captain. "This is the first Test we play without Kumar. We depended a lot on him all these years. When he is batting runs keep flowing. We miss him."

Sri Lanka’s struggles against Yasir Shah continued as he picked up four wickets bowling unchanged in the afternoon session. So far the leg-spinner has picked up 21 wickets in the series. "He is bowling really well. In Galle and at The Oval he did really well. He doesn’t give too many loose balls. He has got a flipper, a googly and the leg-spin. That’s why he has taken so many wickets. We have to play strongly against him. When we try to block he will go up."

"I just wanted to be positive against him. The key is to use the feet. When you do that you can rotate the strike. That’s the main thing."

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