The instance of a runout, a result of a miscommunication between the two batsmen, is quite a common scenario in cricket, at present. Even the best batsmen of the team have been committing blunders while running between the wickets. The latest batsman who entered the list was Sri Lankan Dinesh Chandimal. Despite being Sri Lanka’s current best batter, their new Test skipper and an alert athlete on the field, Chandimal ran Sri Lanka’s opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne out in the most miserable manner.
In the 70th over, Karunaratne stepped down to the pitch, tapped the ball to mid-on, and ran for a single which could easily be taken. Unfortunately, his partner on the other end, Chandimal, who had his back turned to Karunaratne, was busy watching the ball and was not even responsible enough to take a call for no. By the time Chandimal realised his mistake, Karunaratne had reached the other side and watched Pakistan Wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed take the bails off.
Karunaratne had to walk back with an incredible score of 93 off 205 balls and the way he had batted on an opening day, fighting against the odds, under pressure, he deserved a triple-digit score. By lunch, the spin duo of Pakistan, Yasir Shah and Hasan Ali, had sent back the top-order of Sri Lanka, apart from Karunaratne for just 61 runs. That saw the visitors at the edge of yet another collapse that would ruin the match for them. However, Karunaratne in support from Chandimal pulled back Sri Lanka from the grave they had built for themselves and ensured they did not lose any wickets in the second session. They put up a 100-run stand for the fourth wicket and revived the Lankan innings.
Now that Karunaratne was out and it was because of Chandimal, it was the latter’s responsibility to take the charge and take Sri Lanka to a big total. Being the captain of the side, the pressure was way more than it would have been otherwise. When a player performs and lays a foundation, the next ones are bound to have less pressure on them and that allows them to play their natural game. Since Karunaratne had taken complete charge, Chandimal was free to be himself and play without pressure.
This Sri Lankan side has witnessed several low points already this year. They became the first-ever Sri Lankan side to lose a Test at home to Bangladesh; they suffered their maiden limited-overs loss to bottom-ranked Zimbabwe and that suddenly saw an altercation in the side. Their regular skipper Angelo Matthews resigned from his duty and made way to two new skippers for ODI and Test respectively. Chandimal has been the most promising player in Sri Lanka ever since he had made his debut as a 21-year-old.
Under his captaincy, Sri Lanka has played three Tests so far and the fourth one is underway right now in Abu Dhabi. He almost lost his debut Test as the captain; it was worse because the match was against the World No. 10 Zimbabwe. Then came Team India, who shattered any left confidence in Chandimal’s vulnerable Sri Lanka.
So, along with the burden to perform himself, Chandimal has a task of helping his side to regenerate as a group and make a comeback to conquer the best in the world. The ongoing series is against Pakistan and Chandimal’s numbers (averages 40+) against these opponents are decent. He bettered the figures after he struck his first century against Pakistan on Friday as he remained unbeaten on 155 and helped Sri Lanka cross 400.
Chandimal began the day slowly as he hit only two runs off his first 20 balls. But eventually, he picked up. He then moved from 60 to 109 inside the first session. He chose to dead-bat almost throughout his knock, only to frustrate the bowlers, especially Yasir Shah who was forced to bowl as many as 57 overs but his innings was valuable for him and his team. He led Sri Lanka to 419 before they were bundled out and this was their best total in six Tests. When Chandimal touched the triple figures, in other times he would have celebrated in an elaborate way but on the second day he knew the job was undone yet. He had a smoother celebration testifying his mature innings.
It was Chandimal’s first century in seven innings, but the timing was perfect as it came right when his team needed him. When a responsibility as huge as captaincy is given to a batsman, especially, one gets to witness something different. Either the batsman succumbs to the pressure of the role or he altogether becomes as a better batter; he gets careful with a certain shot owing to the burden of the role. Chandimal came in the second category; having batted for over nine hours, he was at the crease stood strong for his side, unbeaten on 155 off 372 balls, which indeed was a captain’s knock.