The captain acknowledges the pressure to change format and conditions for his team and not to play cricket for himself
Rare is the Sri Lankan captain who arrives in a foreign land with more confidence in his bowling titles than his batters. But two days after the Boxing Day test, this is the situation Dimuth Karunaratne felt he was in. For the first time in several years, Sri Lanka has an almost complete set of fast to choose from. There isn’t much experience there, but there is variety.
Lahiru Kumara has perhaps the most game-changing potential in South Africa – his debut was here in 2017. Both he and Dushmantha Chameera played faster than 145km / h during the recent LPL. Sri Lanka also has left-arm swinging bowler Vishwa Fernando and right-arm seamer Kasun Rajitha, both of whom contributed to South African Test victories last year.
The only concern at the moment is about Suranga Lakmal, who is the leader of the seam bout and the most consistent bowler hat in Sri Lanka. He had a problem before the first test and is not sure to play. But even without him, Sri Lanka can field a good attack, Karunaratne said. If only the joke could come right.
“We will need the fast pitchers in Centurion and Wanderers,” Karunaratne said. “Last time we came to South Africa we didn’t have many options – Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera weren’t here. This time we have that strength and we will need it. If the opposition thinks we don’t have a lot of pace. or rebound in our team, which encourages them to use their conditions even more against us. But on this tour, we have fast bowling players and, if you look at the pace, we’re pretty much even. I think the hitters do. they will make a difference. Whoever is the best batting team has a good chance of winning the series. “
“Once we got here we realized how difficult it will be. However there is pressure when you play abroad, but personally I think the pressure has doubled on me because I haven’t had any training.”
Batting can be particularly fragile in a year that has seen very little long-lasting cricket for many players. Sri Lanka played the first-class national competition until the middle of the year, but that tournament ended more than five months ago. Not that it was very useful for Karunaratne, however – an injury kept him out of the national tournament and he hasn’t had any competitive cricket since March. If the Sri Lankan hitters want to make an impact in South Africa, chances are they’ll need to get away from their captain.
“I haven’t been able to play much this year, partly because I had an injury for a side,” Karunaratne said. “I feel a little nervous about playing again, but I’m sure everyone is. Getting started in Centurion is a big challenge, and once we got here we realized how difficult it will be. train hard and in a great effort to adapt. However there is pressure when playing overseas, but personally I think the pressure has doubled on me because I didn’t have that match training. But I think once I hit some ball in the middle, I’ll be fine. “
Those who recently played cricket, meanwhile, were playing T20 – the Lanka Premier League ended on December 16. Sri Lanka spent about a week in South Africa and was unable to play a training match there as it normally would, mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As professionals we have to adapt to the change in format,” Karunaratne said. “The only problem is that the fields here are so different from those in Sri Lanka and we haven’t had much time to train. Our players adapt quickly, but we don’t have an option anyway. With Covid, that’s what it is. we have to live with. I think we will be well prepared on the 26th.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is the ESPNcricinfo correspondent from Sri Lanka. @afidelf