By Srian Obeyesekere
Carrying a handicap of a 8-month drought from test cricket, nothing short of an absolute triumph of both tests against New Zealand is the tall order for third placed Sri Lanka to making it to the World Test Championship for Dimuth Karunaratne’s charges in tomorrow’s face off with the hosts in the first test at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch. Indeed, that magical task of ascending the ultimate to that grandeur of playing against already qualified Australia pits Karunaratne’s charges against the reigning world test champions who won the inaugural championship that the World governing body the International Cricket Council (ICC) put together to defining the game’s superstars in the arduous long version of the game. Of course, Sri Lanka do enjoy the advantage of carrying the third placed muscle from 5 wins from 10 outings to New Zealand declined to eighth place from the golden champion aura of 2019 when they defeated India in the final under the leadership of Kane Williamson. However, fronting the Kiwis in their own backyard, the captaincy reins this time around in the hands of all-rounder Tim Southee, will certainly a demanding hurdle for a Lankan side accentuating on youth to go with the experience of skipper Karunaratne and former veteran captain Angelo Matthews in the fold.
In that scenario, in Karunaratne, the Lankan camp does boast of a 14-strong century credentials the 34+year old will carry to the middle in that thrust. As Karunaratne has aired ahead of tomorrow’s test, his side will certainly have to brave the handicap of the month hiatus from the game where ‘we will need to adjust in that reality to acclimatising to New Zealand conditions.” Karunaratne has stated that the prevalent hot cool conditions would probably influence going with an extra spinner to pair with Dhananjaya de Silva, but that the final decision will be taken after inspecting the wicket on the morning of the match.
The qualifying equation for Sri Lanka also boils down to India having to lose to Australia the final test at Ahmedabad starting on Thursday in the on going series.