SECOND TEST AT VOLATILE WANDERERS PACE TRACK
Make or break it will be with the onus very much on an out of form for Dimuth Karunaratne to in terms of strictly cricketing parlance lead from the front or walk the talk with his bat with the odds heavily stacked against a 0-1 down Sri Lanka in the second Test match on Sunday at a volatile pace track at the Wanderers. That the Lankans will have to brave a ghostly defeatist past at this venue will be no cheer up tonic.
Out of action on a limbo are Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal and Oshada Fernando, the last two who were non starters in the first test as well while also in doubt is all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga following a thigh injury sustained while fielding in the previous test.
Indeed, the left handed Karunaratne will need to put behind a poor run of a dozen innings bar a solitary half century which too was at the Wanderers in Sri Lanka’s 2017 defeat if he is to lift his side from the wandering. Certainly it will be the acid test for the 32-year old to come good given the bad case scenario minus its front liners. The clarion call to redeeming his side from the doldrums is double edged from a personal standpoint of redeeming himself in the captaincy big boots given a poor showing of 6 and a duck in the first test in the wake of scores of a low run in the 2019 series where his highest was 30.
Minus the two most technically equipped test batsmen in its ranks – Dhananjaya de Silva and Dinesh Chandimal, a big score from Karunaratne, who came to the limelight with a string of copybook test tons, will be the timely tonic to keeping Sri Lanka’s hopes alive. The lack of test temperament bar De Silva and Chandimal’s first innings efforts at Centurion was a negating factor to Sri Lanka’s precipitation in the lost game which will need addressing.
Meanwhile, Lahiru Thirimanne, who is also on the cards for a comeback, will have to produce nothing short of his glory days form in the contention stakes. Hard hitting batsman Minod Bhanuka is also expected to make his test debut.
The depleted pace bowling attack will be reinforced by Dushmantha Chameera and 23-year old Asitha Fernando who will be debuting with Vishwa Fernando and Dasun Shanaka forming the line-up .
The reality situation is of a charged up South African outfit out for a cleanup of the Lankans to avenge the 2-nil defeat they suffered when the two sides last met as well as coming out of a 15-month hibernation of a poor test record having lost the last three series.’
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-