Sri Lanka cricket breeds tale of two captains | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka cricket breeds tale of two captains

12 June, 2022
Dasun Shanaka-Dimuth Karunaratne
Dasun Shanaka-Dimuth Karunaratne

Player revolt, pay disputes, bouts of indiscipline and selection mishaps have been the norm in Sri Lanka’s cricket set-up in recent years, but very rarely have captains poured their hearts out or aired their emotions in public.

With Australia’s formidable cricketers now touring Sri Lanka after a six year absence, the stage could not have been more appropriate for Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne and the captain of the truncated format of the game Dasun Shanaka to plead that what they have showcased about themselves to-date have not been to its fullest.

Both Karunaratne and Shanaka may be contrasting in their style of play but the duo are not far apart in their modest nature and with time also running out in their careers, the duo chose not to hide their true feelings to a following that had very little to brag about by way of results over the past decade.

Karunaratne, since making his last ODI appearance against the West Indies and scoring 31 in March 2021 for an aggregate of 767 runs with a career-best 97, has been limited to a Test player but is still keen on a role in One-Day International cricket.

“It’s up to the selectors,” said the 34-year old Karunaratne when asked if he was satisfied playing traditional five-day Test cricket only. “Even if I am not playing ODI cricket, I play on the domestic circuit and (English) county cricket and if I get a chance to play overseas it will further help me to improve my cricket.”

Interestingly Karunaratne was Sri Lanka’s last World Cup captain in 2019 and subsequently led the team to a 3-0 ODI series win against the West Indies in February 2020 that made him one of the most successful captains in ODI cricket.

But Shanaka, the country boy, never had a smooth run in limited overs cricket since leading a band of virtual raw recruits to whitewash the world’s top ranked T20 team Pakistan in 2019 after the big guns pulled out over security fears.

Made the captain of the Sri Lanka ODI team in July 2021 Shanaka could not endear himself to local crowds amid the Covid pandemic lockdown and cricket played to empty stadiums.

But he now sees himself as a captain and player with a promise to oblige his result-starved followers in the five-match ODI series against Australia which starts on Tuesday after defeat in the three-match T20 series.

“It was very heartening to see our cricket fans lining up in queues for tickets despite the hardships. We are ready to oblige them and we need them to come and support us which is very important for us,” said Shanaka who has appeared 34 times at the crease in ODI cricket for an aggregate of 842 and a top score of 102.