Freedom doesn’t mean swinging at every ball: Karunaratne
Dimuth Karunaratne was not impressed with Sri Lanka's batting in second innings. (AFP Image)

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne was not happy with his batsmen’s lack of application against New Zealand in the second innings of the Colombo Test which Sri Lanka lost by an innings and 65 runs as the series ended 1-1.


Niroshan Dickwella had stated during the second Test how Karunaratne gives everyone the freedom to go out and express themselves and reflecting on that remark, the Sri Lanka skipper also went on to explain the importance of patience while batting.

READ: He allows players to express themselves 100 percent – Dickwella on skipper Karunaratne

“When I say players should be free, I don’t mean that you just hit every ball that you see,” Karunaratne said following the defeat. “It’s about keeping your mind free. If you at any time feel like you should play the reverse-sweep but you stop yourself, you’re restricting yourself. There are times when you can get runs from that shot, and when it’s a safe option. It’s about being relaxed.

READ: Watling credits New Zealand success in subcontinent to self-belief

“Freedom doesn’t mean swinging at every ball. It’s about playing with confidence. At times I felt our players really lacked patience. A Test is a very valuable thing, and batsmen should know how to play according to the situation. They should know how to handle that freedom.”

New Zealand became just the fifth non-Asian side to inflict an innings defeat on Sri Lanka at home. Having won the first Test comfortably, Sri Lanka could have sealed the series 2-0 but a batting collapse in the second innings, which saw them lose the first five wickets for 32 runs, threw the game away. To make matters worse, with New Zealand spinners getting enough purchase, some of the shots played by the batsmen were questionable.

“It was a pretty good wicket in the first innings, and we didn’t execute our shots very well,” Karunaratne said. “The batsmen probably thought it was going to be a good, flat wicket and so the application wasn’t there. Even me, after getting 60 [65], I played a rash shot [in the first innings]. It was a good wicket and you have to put up a good score on it. The Kiwis batted really well. They put up huge totals and put us under pressure.”

But giving credit where it’s due, Karunaratne praised New Zealand for bouncing back after Sri Lanka had them 84/3. Colin de Grandhomme’s 83 and centuries from Tom Latham and BJ Watling lifted New Zealand to 431 for 6 before the declaration came.

“We got the wickets of the first three batsmen quickly, and I think we thought the other wickets would also come easily,” he observed. “But they batted really well, and the pitch also dried out a bit, and the moisture that was there disappeared. It stopped seaming around. Despite that, I think we could have bowled better, and bowled tighter.

“But on the second day New Zealand bowled really well, drying up the runs by bowling on one side of the pitch. Apart from Suranga Lakmal and Dilruwan Perera our bowlers don’t have much experience, but I think they’ve played enough first-class cricket to stack one side of the field and bowl to that.”