Karunaratne banks on spinners to win series against Tigers

Sports Correspondent

29 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne was hopeful that their existing spinners would be able to win the second and final Test against Bangladesh, starting in Kandy today.

The first Test wicket at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium could not meet the expectations of the home side as it turned out to be a batting-friendly wicket whereas the hosts wanted to have a pace-friendly wicket to outclass the visitors.

Both the teams scored a total of 1289 runs in the drawn run-galore first Test despite bad light and torrential rain forcing some early stumps in a few days of the Test match.

Karunaratne had to change his plan this time around to win the home series against the Tigers as they have planned to beat Bangladesh with their spin bowling attack in the second Test, despite having an inexperienced spin department than Bangladesh.

Sri Lanka, who played with three pacers in the first Test, is likely to include left-arm wrist-spinner Lakshan Sandakan or off-spin bowling all-rounder Ramesh Mendis in place of injured pacer Lahiru Kumara along with their two existing spin options - Wanindu Hasaranga and Dhananjaya de Silva.

“We always play a game to win. So we all plan to do our best to win the game and win a series. We did not get what we expected from the previous pitch. The bowlers did not have enough support to take 20 wickets and win,” Karunaratne, who made a brilliant 244 runs in the first Test, told reporters on Wednesday.

“With this coming it is very difficult to set the wicket to suit fast bowlers most of the time. Because most of the time the wickets contribute to the batsmen. So we planned to take the existing spinners forward. Our batsmen are in good spirits because they were among the scorers. So we back the spinners and we try to win the match.

“In the first match, we all know that we got the right pitch for the batsmen. But we wanted a different kind of turf. But unfortunately, it took a different turn.

“But in this match, we hope to give a 50-50 wicket most of the time because it will be a wicket that will suit the batsmen in the first few days and contribute to the spin most of the next three days. That is what is expected. We hope to make the game a composition that fits that plan,” he added.

Karunaratne claimed that they have already made plans for Tamim Iqbal, who played two outstanding innings of 90 and 74 not out in the first Test, helping Bangladesh draw the opening Test.

“We might have both Dhananjaya de Silva and Ramesh Mendis in the team, so we'd have two off-spinners, and in the last few series Tamim hasn't played off-spinners that well,” said Karunaratne.

“The first five or ten overs, Suranga Lakmal also has a good chance of getting him out. The way Tamim plays, there are lbw opportunities. So we've got plans like that. If that doesn't work, we'll try to get him into a defensive mode.

“Tamim scores quickly and really tries to unsettle the bowlers and put them under pressure. It's possible that if we try to reduce his rate of scoring, the chances of him making a mistake are higher. In the first Test we tried very hard to get him out, and what happened was that we leaked a lot of runs.

“In this match, we're planning to close up his big scoring areas and get him to play more defensively. When he attacks more, we do give away a lot of runs, and it's hard for us to recover,” he added.