Karunaratne ready for the challenge of another ICC Men’s World Cup after coming in from the wilderness

24 May 2019 06:39 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Sri Lanka’s new skipper Dimuth Karunaratne knows the size of the task facing him after being parachuted in at the 11th hour for the 2019 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.

But the 31-year-old is determined to make the best of a difficult situation on the eve of the tournament.

Sri Lanka are, of course, former winners of this competition back in 1996 and made the quarter-finals four years ago in Australia and New Zealand.

But the 2019 squad will need to turn things around in quite some style if they are to replicate those heroics of yesteryear.

Their warm-up win over Scotland this week was their first ODI victory this calendar year and that run of form cost Lasith Malinga the captaincy and saw Karunaratne brought in.

The 31-year-old opener has been a hero for the Test side in recent months but had not played an ODI since the 2015 World Cup before the ongoing Scotland series. Not that the man himself minds too much.

“I have played lots of Test cricket and domestic one-day games so I don’t think it really matters that I have not played ODIs recently,” said the skipper at the captain’s media launch in London on Thursday. 

“The selectors know how I can play in ODIs so now we need openers who can bat for long periods which is why I have a chance.

“It is very exciting to be playing in a World Cup. There have always been mind games at World Cups – but we will be trying to do our best and are feeling confident.

“The goal is to try to win each match we play, take it one by one. But we know it is not going to be easy.”

Karunaratne also revealed that Malinga will join up with the team this weekend as preparations ramp up for their tournament opener against New Zealand in Cardiff on June 1.

The white-ball specialist Malinga was a key cog in Mumbai Indians’ run to the 2019 IPL title earlier this month.

And in a tournament where bat is expected to dominate ball, Karunaratne knows the importance of having his best bowlers on top form. 

“We have experience in England – and everything we need to get confidence and used to the conditions,” he added.

“I will have to work hard to keep the bowlers’ morale up. It is not going to be easy but have to find a way to get our opponents all out.”

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