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‘Players are now ready’ – Karunaratne delighted with bench strength

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Dimuth Karunaratne, the Sri Lankan skipper, was delighted with his team’s dominant performance in the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh, especially how the bench came good.

The series sweep made for a great start to Sri Lanka’s post-World Cup season.  The victory margins – 91 runs, seven wickets and 122 runs – were especially encouraging. While Lasith Malinga signed off on a high with a three-wicket haul in his final ODI appearance in the first game of the series, Angelo Mathews, now their senior-most cricketer, produced a match-winning innings of 87 in the third game, winning both the match and series awards.

For Karunaratne though, the performances from the younger lot gave him more satisfaction. “The young players grabbed their chances really well,” he said after the third ODI on Wednesday, July 31. “If there’s a lot of competition and there’s a strong bench, if a player is injured I can easily bring another player.”

Apart from Kusal Mendis, who made a steady half-century, Dasun Shanaka and Wanindu Hasaranga contributed with both bat and ball. The skipper believed that healthy competition among players would ensure they give their best performances, as Sri Lanka look to form a solid core in the next few years.

“I think this is the way we have to build a good line-up. This is the time we have to bring some youngsters for the next couple of years. We’ve had an issue recently, where we didn’t have that strong bench. But players are now ready, and they’ll grab the chances that come their way.”

“You need a lot of players to build up that competition within a team so that players are constantly putting pressure on each other to perform. If you have a strong bench, the players who are in the team have to take that responsibility. There are a lot of players trying to get that chance, so there’s pressure on the XI. I have a team I can work with. The youngsters have a great energy about them as well.”

The 31-year-old acknowledged that his team lacks wicket-taking bowlers, but expects quality options in the near future. “We need to find bowlers who can get us wickets,” Karunaratne said. “We have to find those players who deliver in tough situations.”

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