Dimuth Karunaratne: We have learned from past errors against England
Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne has challenged his side not to make the same mistakes that saw them slump to a 3-0 series loss last time they hosted England.
Joe Root led the tourists to a historic whitewash victory back in 2018 as they combined aggressive batting with a three-pronged spin attack of Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Jack Leach.
Karunaratne came out of that examination better than most, finishing as the second top-scorer on either side with 256 runs at 42.66, but knows there was a collective failure elsewhere.
Rashid may be absent from this tour due to a restrictive shoulder complaint and Moeen is highly unlikely to make an appearance having been kept in quarantine since his Covid-19 diagnosis, but the hosts remain on alert as they look to put right their previous defeat.
“We learned a lot of things in the past series and we’re not going to make those mistakes again,” he said on the eve of the series.
“We are looking to play our normal, fearless game. I think their spinners are just as dangerous this time. Leach is still there and he’s the man who did a lot of of work in the last series here.
“It is unfortunate that Moeen Ali, who did a good job, can’t play the series, but Dom Bess has done a good job for England as well, so we never underestimate their bowlers.
“We always knew what they are capable of in their bowling line-up, but we know what the conditions are, so we have a few plans against them.”
Karunaratne was also quick to leap on the omission of the rested Ben Stokes from the trip as a source of optimism for his team.
The all-rounder is being kept fresh for the forthcoming Test series in India, but his ability to change games with the bat and add forceful spells with the ball will be missed.
“Since the last series they played against us, Ben Stokes is not in their squad. Stokes is the guy who balanced their team,” said Karunaratne.
“We have a clear advantage against this team, because they’ve got a few new players. They are players who don’t have much experience in these conditions. That said, we shouldn’t take it easy. They’ve also been playing cricket and they were the first ones to start playing Tests again after Covid hit so their fitness levels are still up there.”
The Sri Lanka side is in a state of some flux having sustained several injuries on the recent tour of South Africa and drafted in several reinforcements for this month’s double header.
Karunaratne said experienced seamer Suranga Lakmal was the biggest doubt and faced a fitness test before play but confirmed key batsmen Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal were ready to go.