Sri Lanka vice-captain Dimuth Karunaratne admitted that his team had much to learn from the positive attitude of Niroshan Dickwella. Sri Lanka were blown away for 144 after electing to bat first in the opening Test here at the Gabba and Dickwella produced the only half-century in the innings.
Rex Clementine in Brisbane
The wicketkeeper batsman counterattacked, making a fine 64 before being ninth man out. There were some stunning strokes during his knock with the scoop shot he played off Mitchell Starc being the most outstanding. To a delivery that was clocked at 143kmph, Dickwella went down on his knees and scooped the ball over the wicketkeeper for a six.
“He always plays like that. He bats at number seven and he generally bats with the tail and bats well. He has done well playing those shots. If he is around with a set batsman, then he will play more carefully, taking the situation into account. But if he is in with the tail, then he will play his shots. We can learn something from him and that is to play positively. Had we all played like that – trying to score runs – we could have scored more than 200,” Karunaratne said, at the post-day presser.
“Some of those shots that he plays, none of us can execute those. He is extremely successful pulling off those strokes. He plays them a lot in ODIs. He knows his game and he knows how to accelerate and which bowler to target. His knowledge about the game is superb and he is an asset to us,” Dimuth went onto add.
Sri Lanka had started off well, seeing off Mitchell Starc’s first spell of five overs. But Pat Cummins coming in from Vulture’s Street End dismissed Lahiru Thirimanne and soon the tourists were in trouble, losing three wickets in the first session and a further five in the second.
“Once the ball got softer, we failed to make the maximum. We should have taken some calculated risks to get us a good total. The pink ball, once it gets softer, then the bowlers honestly don’t have much advantage. The middle order should have batted more positively.”
After Dickwella’s 64, the next highest score in the Sri Lankan innings was Karunaratne’s 24. There were only two other double digit scores in what was a shambolic batting performance.
“First hour we did okay. But once Thirimanne got out, we were struggling and failed to score runs. That’s the key thing. We have to play positive and if we don’t, we will end up with scores like 150 and 170. I think the next time we bat we have to bat positively.”
Karunaratne had looked good during his 24, having faced 70 deliveries and done the hard work against the seamers. It was disappointing to see him dismissed by Nathan Lyon – caught behind having gloved one to Tim Paine.
“In the first hour, the pitch was like a bit slow. There was spongy bounce. I felt that after a few overs the spinner will come to the equation. We batted well against him, but Nathan got some bounce and was able to dismiss me. If we could have got through that tough period we would have scored big runs,” he remarked.
Despite Sri Lanka finishing with a below par score, Karunaratne didn’t rule out a fightback from his side on day two, highlighting Dilruwan Perera as the key. Australia are 72 for two with just 72 runs behind and Sri Lanka nearly got a third wicket but Roshen Silva put down a chance off night watchman Nathan Lyon in the last over before stumps.
“We need to dry up the runs. If they score freely that’s going to be tough for us. We need early wickets. If Dilruwan can give us a few early wickets we are in the game for sure.”
“Tomorrow when we bowl we need to bowl to a tight line. I think Dilruwan will play a big role. After the fast bowlers get tired, he will have to hold one end up. It is tough to be aggressive against the spinner on this wicket as there is quite a bit of bounce. I feel that if we can bowl to a decent line and length and slow down the runs, we can put pressure on them. That will force some loose shots. That is what we should do. All in all, the batters were disappointing today. We should have put more runs on the board.”
For the Aussies, Jhye Richardson, who made his debut, was on the money. His first Test wicket was skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who was beaten for pace and caught behind. Then after lunch, he produced a peach to uproot Kusal Mendis’ off-stump and accounted for Dhananjaya de Silva as well to finish with three for 39.
“It’s been a massive learning experience for me. It’s happened so quickly. For me to able to gain as much experience as I can in such a short amount of time, to learn about the game, to learn about the experiences and pressure that comes with it,” Richardson said.
“Soon after training yesterday, I came to know that I was going to make my debut. From there it was trying to keep a level head. There’s so much emotion going through your body and you’re not sure how to deal with it at that present moment. Excitement, a lot of anxious feelings. But luckily enough I had enough time to get my parents and girlfriend here. That was a big help in being able to settle myself down coming into the game which was really exciting for me and obviously the cap presentation this morning was even better,” Richardson added.