“On this pitch a 50 was not enough for me”: Dimuth Karunaratne

Tuesday, 27 April 2021 01:11 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

Over the years, Dimuth Karunaratne has turned out to be his country’s most reliable batsman and the burden of captaincy has not affected his performances at all – the added responsibility has only increased his hunger for runs. He averages 43.65 with the bat as captain and 36.58 when he is not captain.

The recently-concluded first Test against Bangladesh at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium brought the best out of Karunaratne in terms of batting where he wore down the opposition bowlers for 11 hours and 38 minutes in compiling his first Test double century, an innings that put his team out of danger after Bangladesh had piled up 541/7 and declared on the third morning.    

“When you play a Test, you have to be mentally prepared to be on the field all five days, whether that’s fielding or batting. Yes, you can feel it in your body when you’ve been fielding a couple of days, but when you get a chance to bat you’ve got to take that opportunity,” said Karunaratne after scoring 244 and winning the Man of the Match award in the drawn contest.

“On this pitch a 50 wasn’t enough for me,” he said. 

“I saw that almost everyone in the Bangladesh team got a 50. I’m not the kind of player who’s satisfied with just getting a 50 on this kind of pitch. I wanted to turn my 50 into a 100 and my 100 into a 150. And you very rarely get pitches like this in Sri Lanka – you generally get tracks that turn a lot. And when you go overseas, you get a lot of seaming conditions. I wanted to get the maximum out of this pitch.”

“Even in the West Indies, I got a start a couple of times but couldn’t make a big score. So, once I got a start and got set here, I really wanted to bat long here, especially as they’d already made a big score. I was able to do that. I’m tired, but I really enjoyed it, and when you’re enjoying it you don’t feel the fatigue so much. On day five, we wanted to declare once we got to certain score, but if we hadn’t wanted to do that, I could have batted all day today as well,” the Lankan captain said.

Of the 11 Test hundreds he has scored, Karunaratne has gone past the 150-run mark on five occasions, his previous highest score being 196 against Pakistan at Dubai in 2017.   

Disappointed that he could not make a big score in the West Indies (12, 3, 1 and 75) Karunaratne said that he turned to the team’s coach for advice.

“In the West Indies, I was trying to score runs quickly in the first few overs and really get among the runs,” he said. 

“But because that was unsuccessful, I talked to the coach and asked him what I was doing wrong. He said as an opener just wait until you get set, because when you do that you make a big score, and that’s your game. I tried to leave the ball a lot when I started here, and properly get settled. I know that when I get set, I can catch up on the scoring rate later. That’s what I applied here. Even in home conditions, I wanted to make that my game plan. I got good support from Thiri (Lahiru Thirimanne), who was scoring quickly in that period, so I was able to take my time.”

Karunaratne and Dhananjaya de Silva, who also made a career-best knock of 166, figured in a record fourth wicket partnership of 345 off 547 balls that really took the wind out of the Bangladesh sails. Thanks largely to this stand, Sri Lanka replied with a massive 648/8 declared, which would have done them immense good mentally for the next Test match beginning at the same venue on Thursday.


Bangladesh 541/7 decl. (Tamim Iqbal 90, Najmul Hossain Shanto 163, Mominul Haque 127, Mushfiqur Rahim 68*, Liton Das 50, Vishwa Fernando 4/96) and 100/2 (Tamim Iqbal 74*) drew with Sri Lanka 648/8 decl. (Dimuth Karunaratne 244, Lahiru Thirimanne 58, Dhananjaya de Silva 166, Taskin Ahmed 3/112)