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.”