Sri Lanka Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne said it is ‘a great honour’ for him to be captaining his team in their 300th Test match against India at the IS Bindra PCA Stadium on Friday.
Ironically, Sri Lanka’s 300th Test match, almost 40 years since entering the fold against England in Colombo, coincides with senior India batter Virat Kohli’s 100th Test as well as Rohit Sharma’s debut as the captain in the longest format of the game.
“That’s a great feeling for me in captaining the 300th Test match (of Sri Lanka). That’s what I did not expect before I played. I got to know about this two-three days ago. It is a great honour for me to be captain in the 300th match and will try my best to give the best result for Sri Lanka,” said Karunaratne in the pre-match virtual press conference.
Karunaratne further expressed happiness over 50% crowd being allowed to attend the first Test, reversed from the original plan of playing behind closed doors.
“That’s a fantastic thing. We have been playing with a crowd and it is a great feeling to be playing with the crowd behind you. I heard that the BCCI was not allowing spectators for the first match. But I think they realised now how important our 300th game and Virat’s 100th Test match is. That is something which is a good decision from BCCI in allowing the 50% spectators for the first Test match.”
Talking about the visitors’ plans to counter the Indian batters, Karunaratne, who scored 902 runs in Tests in 2021, didn’t divulge much into Sri Lanka’s game plan. “Our plans, those are secrets. We are not supposed to tell that to the press. But we do have some plans. We do know some youngsters are playing like (Shreyas) Iyer, Shubman Gill, those are the guys who are supposed to fill the places of (Ajinkya) Rahane and (Cheteshwar) Pujara. So, we have some plans and will try to execute in the Test match as well.”
Karunaratne confirmed that the playing eleven may comprise of three seamers, a left-arm spinner and seven batters. Lahiru Thirimanne may open alongside Karunaratne with Pathum Nissanka at three and Niroshan Dickwella as the wicket-keeper, marking his first Test since the bio-bubble breach ban. He signed off by expressing confidence in spinners to do well in India and hinted at pacer Dushmantha Chameera being rested for the first Test.
“Talking about Dushi (Chameera), he has played in the T20Is in the last few months. We are supposed to give him rest and were looking to play him in the second Test, the pink-ball Test. The spinners are young but they did really well in the past few Test matches if you take (Lasith) Embuldeniya, Praveen (Jayawickrama) and even Ramesh (Mendis, out injured). Those guys did an amazing job with the bowling part in the past few days. I am pretty confident that they can do the same thing in Indian conditions as well.”