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    Seniors should play with more responsibility, says skipper Dimuth

    August 28, 2019

    Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne said that senior players in the team should play with more responsibility after they were dismissed for totals of 244 and 122 to lose the rain-affected second Test by an innings and 65 runs to New Zealand at the P Sara Oval on Sunday. “Senior players getting out too early is a big question, it makes a big impact on the team. When the three most senior players fail in both innings, it’s a very big issue,” said Karunaratne at the post-match press conference.

    Lahiru Thirimanne made 2 and 0, Angelo Mathews 2 and 7 and Kusal Perera a pair. “I don’t think that anyone fails purposefully. But I honestly think we took wrong decisions. If we take the run out of (Lahiru) Thirimanne it was totally unnecessary at that point. Then, Kusal Perera’s shot (trying to hit over slips) too. At that time we were not chasing a total what we needed was to stay at the crease. I don’t think we did the right thing,” said Karunaratne. “These players should learn from their mistakes. This is a learning process and I don’t want to see the same happening in the future. As a captain, even I feel very uncomfortable when the team is playing like that,” he said.
    “We knew it was not easy in Galle that’s why we were determined to win. But here I think on a good flat wicket the application was not there. Even me, after getting 60, I played a rash shot. Those are things that we’ll have to think of. When it’s a good wicket, you have to put a good score. The Kiwis batted really well, they put up a huge total and put us under pressure that’s what happened.“On many occasions, more often than not, I think our players lacked patience. We have to re-think about this because there are a lot more cricket coming up. If we give too much freedom to players and we don’t get what we shall be getting, we’ll have to think about the players again.”
    The defeat was Karunaratne’s first as Test captain after being installed into that position for the two-Test series in South Africa in February. His success as captain Karunaratne explained was giving freedom to his players to express themselves in the middle without putting too much pressure on themselves.However he explained, “When I say players should be free, I don’t mean that you just hit every ball that you see. It’s about keeping your mind free. If you at any time feel like you should play the reverse-sweep but you stop yourself, you’re restricting yourself. There are times when you can get runs from that shot, and when it’s a safe option. It’s about being relaxed. Freedom doesn’t mean swinging at every ball. It’s about playing with confidence. At times I felt our players really lacked patience. A Test is a very valuable thing, and batsmen should know how to play according to the situation. They should know how to handle that freedom.”
    Karunaratne who suffered a quadriceps strain to his left leg that deprived him from taking the field on the fourth day and opening the batting in the second innings said that watching from the pavilion he thought Sri Lanka should have bowled better.“When we were batting, the wicket was not giving much to them they bowled in good areas and waited for us to make mistakes. They were testing our patience. This is what Test cricket is all about. We also should have done the same when we were bowling,” said Karunaratne.
    “With the sunshine, two batsmen were set. If we took an initiative at that time, we could have saved more runs as well. Angi (Angelo Mathews) is a very good captain and he is the senior-most player in the side. I think he would have had an idea of what is best to do at that given moment. I believe his decisions are right. But, looking from the outside (from the dressing room) I think we should have bowled better.”New Zealand recovered from 126-4 to post a challenging total of 431-6 declared, thus gaining a first innings lead of 187, which Sri Lanka failed to avert and lost by an innings.
    “After getting their three big fish, we thought it would have been easy. But they batted really well. At the same time, the wicket was drying up and it was easy for the batters. As the wicket lost its moisture, there was less seam but still, we could have done better by bowling in right areas,” said Karunaratne.“They batted really well and executed their plans. Because of that, they had plenty of runs on the board and their experience put us under pressure. On the other hand, we didn’t bat well in the first session. If we had batted better, we could have ended drawn the match. We lost too many wickets in the first session (on the fifth day) and that’s why we lost.
    “In our first and second innings, they bowled well. They were landing the ball on one side and kept persisting. Other than Suranga Lakmal, our bowlers are young and they lack experience. But, having said that, they have played enough first-class cricket to stick to one side and bowl to a set field. If we’re to play better cricket against tough opposition, we need to realize these things quickly,” he said.

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