Joe Root doesn’t, Kane Williamson doesn’t, and Virat Kohli wouldn’t dream of doing it. How has someone managed to open batting while captaining a test team? Dimuth Karunaratne, possibly the last of a dying race, approaches him as Alastair Cook. An old-school southpaw hits like no one ever told him he’s boss now. His record is serenely unchanged, averaging around 37 and a strike rate of 49. His tenth test hundred came last week when the Sri Lankan ship sank off Highveld, but he has yet to make one of every eight games against England. . The good news is that he loves to hit in Galle, where both tests will take place, and he can’t do any worse than the last Sri Lankan captain to welcome Root, Dinesh Chandimal, who suffered a 3-0 shutout in 2018.
Losing a colossus can be considered inconvenient; Losing two in rapid succession seems like a blow that can roll back decades. Sri Lanka’s hitting has yet to recover from the retirement of Mahela Jayawardene in August 2014 and Kumar Sangakkara a year later. Between them they obtained 18 scores of 200 or more in the tests, while Sri Lanka has only achieved one since then. It was scored (in Zimbabwe) by Angelo Mathews, the former captain who is now a senior statesman. If he’s fit for this series, he’ll be fresh, after missing the South African tour with a hamstring injury. His test average against England (45) is better than Sangakkara’s (40), but the batting above him is so fragile that he needs to target the stratosphere occupied by Jayawardene (58). Mathews has had great success before against Broad and Anderson: it was his 160, at Headingley in 2014, that gave him Sri Lanka’s only win on English soil.
Spearhead, in cricket, generally means a fast bowler, but the spin is also a spear and in Sri Lanka it tends to have a recognized head. For centuries it was Muttiah Muralitharan; the cloak was then passed to Rangana Herath, who handed it (in the middle of England’s last series in Sri Lanka) to Dilruwan Perera. Like Herath, Perera is a late developer. He is 38 years old and even older than Jimmy Anderson, if only for eight days. In 21 home rounds, he has 103 wickets at 28.75, and in 2018, while England won hands down, his 22-wicket course was the best on both sides. This time around, the England teams have come up with a cunning plan to thwart him. They have left out most of their lefties. Ben Stokes is rested, Rory Burns is on paternity leave and Keaton Jennings has been ignored, despite being a Burns starter and having a commanding record in Asia. Perera may be waiting for Moeen Ali, who tested positive for Covid, to return quickly.
When Root’s England beat Sri Lanka, they did so with a panoply of slow things: Moeen’s out-of-turn attack, Adil Rashid’s variety of leg breaks, and Jack Leach’s slow and steady left arm. This time, with Moeen convalescing and Rashid settling to be a white star, the captain with the spinning trident should be Karunaratne. His answer to Leach is Lasith Embuldeniya, who made a name for himself with a five-course course on his debut in 2019 that led to an epic victory in South Africa. In six tests since then, he has scored two four-four more. Last year he was the only Sri Lankan among the Cricket Monthly players. 20 cricketers for the 2020s. When asked for the name of his hero, Embuldeniya chose Herath. When asked to comment, Herath said: “It has all the fundamentals that a left arm spinner needs, like precision, and it has something that I never had, which is height.”
A man of international mystery. He has two identities: on the scorecard, he’s often PWH de Silva, but he prefers his middle names, and the mystique extends to his bowling alley. A 23-year-old with a lethal googly, he was named player of the tournament last month in the inaugural Lankan Premier League, which was won by his team, the Jaffna Stallions, if you can bear to have that on your jersey. , you can handle most things. Its testing debut, at Centurion on December 26, was sobering and promising. As the only specialized spinner, Hasaranga had to do the heavy lifting while South Africa racked up 621, but managed four scalps, including Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis (for 199), then fired a quick 59 shot to lift the gloom. of an innings loss. He has a lower first-class bowling average than Dom Bess, a higher batting average than Zak Crawley, and a good chance of being the best Leg Twist Test all-rounder since Richie Benaud.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism