He allows players to express themselves 100 percent: Dickwella on skipper Karunaratne
Niroshan Dickwella (L) and Dimuth Karunaratne. (AFP Image)

Niroshan Dickwella has praised Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne immensely, calling him a different skipper as compared to the rest. Dickwella, the wicketkeeper batsman, was the vice-captain to Karunaratne in South Africa, where Sri Lanka stunned the hosts 2-0 and has been very vocal in his support for the skipper.

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Karunaratne was appointed captain at a time when Sri Lankan cricket were going through a bit of a turmoil. The board was slapped with corruption charged and Karunaratne was appointed captain across all formats, standing in for Dinesh Chandimal. Prior to the World Cup, Sri Lanka’s last four series had seen them cycle through three different skippers, with all of Angelo Mathews, Chandimal, and Lasith Malinga having been at the helm at some point.

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In March, Karunaratne was fined and reprimanded by Sri Lanka Cricket after a drink-driving incident, for which he also had his driving licence suspended, but ever since, he’s come back strong. Although Sri Lanka did not qualify for the semi-finals, under Karunaratne, they beat hoists England in a stunner and defeated the West Indies.

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In the first Test at Galle against New Zealand, Karunaratne led from the front in Sri Lanka’s second innings and scored a match-winning 122 which helped pave the way for a successful chase of 268. Lauding the efforts of his captain, Dickwella spoke about some amazing qualities which Karunaratne brings to the table as a leader.

“Dimuth is a very different kind of captain,” he said. “His way of managing players is different, and every captain has their own style. I’ve played a lot with Dimuth and what he does is give the player the freedom to go and express themselves 100% in the match.

“What Dimuth says is go and do what you want to do, and what you feel you can do. If we make a mistake, he’ll pull us aside and say this happened, why don’t we fix that mistake for next time? He talks a lot about being confident about your abilities. And he gives you that confidence.”

Having won the first Test to secure a 1-0 lead, Sri Lanka’s third under Karunaratne, the team moves to Colombo, where their record isn’t too great. Of their previous seven Tests at the venue, Sri Lanka have tasted defeat in five. Dickwella feels the conditions will favour the batsmen more in Colombo, a stark contrast to Galle, where neither team could manage to conjure 300.

“It’s a big challenge. Having won one game, we have a big responsibility to win the series. We have the confidence, but we need to keep making good decisions at crunch moments,” Dickwella said. “Close-in fielders, including me, have missed some chances in Galle, but those were difficult chances – you don’t have even seconds to react. But still, we spoke about that. We’re happy to improve on those areas.

“In the batting, we were 142 for 2 and then collapsed to 168 for 7 in the first-innings, so we have to improve on that as well. When it comes to bowling, when one bowler is bowling well, from one end, we need to build a partnership from the other end as well.”