Man of the Series and Man of the Match: Dimuth defines his role in team as anchor man | Daily News

Man of the Series and Man of the Match: Dimuth defines his role in team as anchor man

Sri Lanka’s anchor man Dimuth Karunaratne
Sri Lanka’s anchor man Dimuth Karunaratne

DUBAI, Wednesday – To stabilize the Sri Lankan batting order since the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene has fallen on the shoulders of left-handed opener Dimuth Karunaratne and he certainly wants to play that role to perfection.

Karunaratne won the second Man of the Series award of his career when he steered Sri Lanka to a morale-boosting 2-0 series win over Pakistan at Dubai on Tuesday.

It was his marathon career best knock of 196 that gave Sri Lanka their first innings total of 482 on which they later built their 68-run series clinching victory. Prior to that Karunaratne put his team on course for another big first innings total in the first Test at Abu Dhabi when he blunted the Pakistan bowlers scoring 93 off 205 balls. These two knocks fetched him a total of 306 runs in the two Tests for an average of 76.50 to edge out Rangana Herath (16 wickets) for the Man of the Series award. Karunaratne also bagged the Man of the Match award as well which was the first of his career and probably with many more to come.

“Our batting coach Hashan Thilakaratne worked with me and stressed how I should be playing the anchor role in the team. Adjust to situations and bat longer. That is my role and others to bat around me,” said Karunaratne after receiving his awards.

“When I occupy one end it is easier for others to play their shots and that is how the team is working. My job is play out the new ball. That is the toughest thing to do as an opener. Once you do that while the others cash in, you also need to get some runs for yourself.

“I know that what I have done on top of the order has made things easier for others. Kumar (Sangakkara) once told me that why are you doing the tough job and then getting out rather than going onto make a big one. Even in club cricket, what I do is to bat for long and get big runs once I get a good start,” he said.

There were a few technical issues to overcome before Karunaratne could adjust to his present role.

“I had some issues with the new ball. My head was falling over. I had that problem from the time I was playing for school. I have worked on that area and rectified the errors. The last Indian series I got out to Umesh Yadav the same fashion,” said Karunaratne.

“I asked Kumar how to play the inswing. I watched Kumar’s videos. County games also I watched a lot. He plays well to the ball that comes in. What he identified was that as I am tapping the bat, the head goes down and the eyes are not positioned properly. You may have seen that when I bat at the start I try to stand straight. That is easy for the bowler’s who bring the ball into you.

“I also had a chat with our batting coach and sorted a few things out. I am not usually troubled by spin bowling there’s nothing to change there. Once I survive the new ball I know what has to be done.

“I have a few areas to work on in batting against left-arm quicks. My technique needs to improve. I had a few issues when they bring the ball back in. I play with two minds. If I am able to rectify that technique it will be better.”

Karunaratne has had the misfortune of getting dismissed in the 190s or in the 90s and he certainly is disappointed at missing out on a couple of milestones in his career.

“I was very disappointed to get out for 196. I knew that was Wahab’s (Riaz) last over. I wanted the strike to attack the leg-spinner because I knew I could score off him. I didn’t think that he was going to cut the ball in. The run out (at Abu Dhabi for 93) of course I usually try to rotate the strike and get singles. When I am in the 80s and 90s I try to get singles. That is how I got out,” said Karunaratne.

“Yes I feel upset. You do the hard work and not to get the hundred and double hundred is disappointing. I don’t think anyone has scored a double since Kumar. It was a great opportunity and I missed it. Glad that I scored a hundred with the pink ball. I should have gone onto get a double. Let’s see what happens. Next time I will put in more hard work. In a way it is good as that it will make me work harder,” he said.

To overcome his disappointment at getting out in the 90s Karunaratne has been working on it with Tillakaratne.

“What I try to do is to get the singles in. If the field is up I play shots. Even at club cricket, if a weak bowler is operating, I never try to get to the hundred by scoring a boundary. I should have stayed on,” said Karunaratne. “Unfortunately to get run out in Abu Dhabi and here I was trying to score a shot. I have been told not to think of it. Even during Marvan’s (Atapattu) time, he had told me not to watch the scoreboard but to just play the game.”

During his lengthy innings of 196 Karunaratne became on the third Sri Lankan opener to cross the 3000 run mark in Test cricket after Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu.

“I would like to bat through the innings. That allows others to bat freely. If I bat for a day, I will get a hundred. I need to be calm and take time. There are bowlers against whom you can score quickly and others whom you cannot,” said Karunaratne 29, who has seven hundreds to his name in 44 Tests.

“The role I have been given by Hashan is to be positive. If I can get 20 to 25 Test hundreds at the end of my career that will be great. It could be a little bit higher as well depending on how it goes.”

Will you get close to Sangakkara who has 38 Test hundreds?

“You’ll never know. I have lots of confidence now, let’s see how it goes.”



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