Sri Lanka back misfiring openers for final Test


by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka have backed the misfiring opening duo of Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva for the third and final Test against Australia that gets underway at Sinhalese Sports Club ground on Saturday.

The squad for the final Test remains the same with the addition of fast bowler Suranga Lakmal, who was taken out of the squad ahead of the first Test after he complained about hamstring strain.

Lakmal has been drafted back into the squad in place of injured fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep.

Both Silva and Karunaratne have been all at sea against Australia’s seamers and not even once have they managed to reach double figures in the four innings so far.

Karunaratne has been Mitchell Starc’s bunny having been dismissed by the left-arm quick all four innings in the series so far. Karunaratne has scored 5,0,0 and 7 in the two Tests while Silva has contributed 4,7,5 and 2.

The Island learns that the authorities had sent word to opener Upul Tharanga to start practicing against the red ball, but had decided against drafting him into the squad in a bid to back current openers.

Both Karunaratne and Silva play domestic cricket for SSC and are well used to the conditions there. Silva in particular was in good nick for SSC early this year making back to back double hundreds for the club in First Class cricket.

Captain Mathews is not someone known for changing winning combinations, but the counter argument is that both openers have looked all at sea against Starc. Karunaratne is so short of confidence that he even ends up flicking juicy half volleys straight to mid-wicket as he proved in the first ball of the Galle Test match.

Sri Lanka are 2-0 up in the series and are banking on their three spinners to give them a rare 3-0 whitewash. Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath became the second Sri Lankan to complete a hat-trick in the second Test in Galle while all-rounder Dilruwan Perera went onto pick up a match bag of ten wickets and was named Man of the Match. Perera is only the sixth Sri Lankan to complete a match bag of ten wickets in Tests.

Chinaman bowler Lakshan Sadakan was sparingly used in Galle as the two premier spinners – Herath and Perera – did the job for Mathews. Although Sandakan sent down just seven overs in Galle, he is expected play a pivotal role at SSC where the wicket is expected to favour the batsmen more.

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