Gritty Dimuth Karunaratne, Sri Lanka’s main hope in India 2022

Dimuth Karunaratne will be a key player for Sri Lanka in India.

With a lot of focus on Joe Root’s dream year in 2021, a lot forgot about Dimuth Karunaratne. Sri Lanka has never won a Test match in India, and last beat India in a Test back in the 2015 Galle Test. They had brief competitive moments but could never win after that, and Sri Lanka will be fighting against the odds this time around. If there is one factor that can keep Sri Lanka in the fight it will be Dimuth Karunaratne.

He was the third-highest scorer last year with 902 runs, and made consistent, gritty and ugly looking fifties through the year. Like Dean Elgar, Dimuth Karunaratne isn’t to pleasing to the eye, but he gets himself into positions that are effective and somehow uses his bat to find runs in a way others wouldn’t dare to do so. He looks ugly as ever, and played the least number of games among the top-three run getters last year, but found runs all over. In a disastrous tour to South Africa with Sri Lankans tumbling to injuries, Dimuth Karunaratne was the sole bright light. He made a spectacular century, oozing character.

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Dimuth Karunaratne got the job back in 2019, and a successful series in South Africa earned him the ODI captaincy as well, despite not being in the reckoning prior to the World Cup. He took over in a period of turmoil, with Sri Lanka shuffling between captains, and became a constant figure as Test captain of Sri Lanka.

Among the bad times in the last few years, and issues with the sports minister as well, Sri Lankan Cricket fell and even lost a home series to England. Karunaratne was injured and out of the series, but made a strong comeback in the West Indies. Following his return from the fracture, Sri Lanka drew a series in West Indies, beat the West Indies at home and also won a home series against Bangladesh.

His grittiness continues to stand out as he is a common feature in the recent hundred run partnerships for Sri Lanka, and is easily their best batter at the moment. Last year though, his runs came against the likes of Bangladesh and West Indies. Scoring in a similar manner against India will be a completely different ball game. He has only played three Tests in India, and will have a high-quality bowling attack to face.

Sri Lanka has never won a Test in India to go with the difficulty and if they are to change that record Karunaratne will have to bat well. If he can replicate his form last year, there will be something for Sri Lanka to look at in what seems like a tough series going by the first day’s play.