Double international, former national doubles badminton champion Chamika Karunaratne delivered Australia the knockout punch by a superb all-round performance by a 3 for 47 haul and a run out to add to his 18 runs in Sri Lanka’s 227 for 9 in a dramatic 26-run triumph in the second ODI to draw level 1-1 on Thursday night at the Pallekelle International Stadium
The 26-year old Karunaratne, who formed a trio of famous brothers who some years ago dominated the Lankan badminton scenario led by brother Niluka, a long time singles champ, last night made the cricket field the ground to hogging the international limelight when he broke the back of the Aussie batting claiming the prize wickets of Australia’s match winners a day ago Glen Maxwell for 30 holing out to Skipper Dasun Shanaka, and Steve Smith for 28 while accounting for the run out of Carey as Australia crumbled for 189 in 37.1 overs chasing a revised D/L target of 216 in 43 overs in the rain affected day-night in reply to Sri Lanka’s 227 for 9 off 50.
Karunaratne, the shutter turned cricketer, who broke into big time cricket as a bowling all-rounder, but has proved to be quite an effective late order batsman, did underline the type of fairy tale success story of a double international of grit and determination to succeed in his new found passion when he voiced post-match that ‘my cricket dream was to await this moment to meet a challenge and deliver for my country.’ Indeed, tall words of resolve to walking the walk on the big stage.
If that beckoning allure was the Player of the Match reward for Karunaratne, as significant to that Lankan triumph were the game changing efforts of batting all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva and 19-year old debutant Dunith Wellalage. De Silva, stroked 34 off 41 hitting 2 boundaries and a six in a 59-run third-wicket rescue act with Kusal Mendis who made 36 off 41 with 2 boundaries and a six to pull Sri Lanka out of the rut of 43 for 2. He followed it up with the double strike of trapping the Aussie Skipper Aaron Finch leg before wicket for 14 and clean bowling the dangerous looking David Warner for 37.
The blossoming element to that Lankan victory in bowling out the Aussies what is the lowest total at Pallekelle was of course, the 19-year old debutant Dinuth Wellalage coming good with both bat and ball. The Sri Lanka U-19 captain followed up his 35-ball 20 with a six and boundary to claim 2 for 25.