Karunaratne keeps Sri Lanka afloat on turning track



A composed knock from Dimuth Karunaratne kept Sri Lanka afloat © AFP

Dimuth Karunaratne (37*) played with composure as he steered Sri Lanka to 93 for 2 at Lunch on Day 1 of the first Test against South Africa in Galle, on Thursday (July 12). On a turning track, with the two South African spinners posing questions, the hosts would be pleased with the efforts of the left-handed opener, who faced more than 10 overs to keep the visitors at bay.

After Sri Lanka had opted to bat, Karunaratne and Danushka Gunathilaka (26) began on a sedate note. Barring the occasional delivery from Dale Steyn that whistled past the outside edge, the openers looked in decent touch. Gunathilaka gave a glimpse of his potential with a flick and punch off Vernon Philander in the seventh over. His batting partner, Karunaratne, hooked Steyn’s bouncer over deep backward square leg for a six. It wasn’t a convincing shot but the opener showed his intent to take on the short ball.

Eventually, du Plessis introduced his chief weapon, Kagiso Rabada, who in turn made the initial incision. In his second over, he generated enough swing and movement off the seam to elicit the outside edge of Gunathilaka with Quinton de Kock pouching the catch. Even after Gunathilaka fell, Rabada continued to impress, especially with well-directed short deliveries.

The spin duo of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi joined forces with Rabada to trouble Karunaratne and the one drop batsman Dhananjaya de Silva. Maharaj, in particular, extracted appreciable turn and a shout for LBW against Karunaratne wasn’t answered in the affirmative. It was his spin partner, Shamsi, who landed the vital blow, by cleaning up de Silva with the chinaman variety. Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis (19*) then guided the hosts to the break.

On expected lines, the Galle track is already assisting spinners and South Africa need to whittle away at the home side to ensure that they don’t face a tall task when it comes to their turn to bat.

Brief scores: Sri Lanka 93/2 (Dimuth Karunaratne 37*; Tabraiz Shamsi 1-10) vs South Africa.

© Cricbuzz


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