Having played one of the most admirable innings in the recent times, Sri Lankan opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne has come out and said that he was extremely determined to follow the basics of playing spin on a turning pitch against South Africa in the first Test at Galle.
Basics of playing spin bowling, it is a study that most modern-day batsmen seem to have forgotten but not the classical and old school Karunaratne. He used his feet to negate the spin from the surface and waited for the short one to arrive before playing it off the back foot, the sweep was plan B for Karunaratne, not his main shot.
There was plenty of turn and variable bounce but his brave effort paid off huge dividends, as Karunaratne did a masterclass on how to dig in against the odds and amassed 158 in the first innings and 60 in the second to help Sri Lanka recover and eventually win the game by a huge margin of 278 runs on the back of rampaging Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath.
Talking about his marathon at the picturesque Galle, Karunaratne said, "If you give spinners a chance to dominate you, they will step all over you. To avoid that I use my feet, and I'm trying to create scoring opportunities by doing as much as I can. What I'm trying to do is make them bowl in areas that are good scoring zones for me. If you move around the crease and take a little risk when scoring those runs, you can get the bowlers to bowl where you want them to,"
"On pitches like this, I am always looking for runs and trying to bat positively. Often my strike rate is in the 70s - like it was in this match. That's the biggest thing. When you are playing spin you need to have a defense, but more than that you have to dominate the spinners before they dominate you."
Despite all the attributes of a solid technically correct batsman, Karunaratne averages less than 40 at the Test level. He knows he still has a long way to go and said, "I think I've matured since I first came into the team. But I'm not complete yet. The more I play, the better I will become, I knew in this match that there would be spin after those early overs because Galle is anyway a spin-friendly track. But I like that challenge because it tests you. You get better when you face challenges like that. I think I'm applying my skill and doing well on turning tracks."
"When I go to bat, I'm thinking of the first 15 overs, because it's in those 15 overs that an opener has it toughest, But if you can get through that, then you should know how to carry on. Rather than doing all the hard work and passing the job on to someone else, it's better to build the innings yourself. If an opener that wants to score runs, that's really important."
(Inputs from Cricbuzz)