Dimuth Karunaratne became the fourth Sri Lankan opener to carry his bat in a Test, scoring 158 against South Africa.
Playing in his 50th Test match (ave 34.63, S/R 47.45), Karunaratne’s 158 was scored off 222 balls (13 fours, one six, S/R 71.1) and his lack of support throughout the innings was, ironically, corrected by the last two Sri Lanka batters.
Karunaratne shared an opening stand of 44 with Danushka Gunathilaka and added 45 with Kusal Mendis for the third wicket, but the two highest partnerships of the innings were for the ninth wicket (48 with new skipper Suranga Lakmal) and the last wicket (63 with Lakshan Sandakan). The latter was the highest 10th wicket stand in Tests between Sri Lanka against South Africa.
It was an innings of style and courage against a South African attack that showed a willingness to attack the batsmen with pace, Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn, in particular, giving the Sri Lankans a tough time, while recalled wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi bowled with control and a decent amount of turn.
Karunaratne’s innings was punctuated with solid defence when required, but he showed himself willing to bat with flair and daring when the opportunity presented itself, including hitting the solitary six of the innings when hooking a bouncer from Steyn over the two Proteas fielders patrolling the square leg boundary.
This was Karunaratne’s first Test century since his 196 against Pakistan in October 2017, a match Sri Lanka won by 68 runs.
|S Wettimuny||63*||144||Sri Lanka||v New Zealand||Test # 950|
|G Kirsten||100*||239||South Africa||v Pakistan||Test # 1382|
|MS Atapattu||216*||428||Sri Lanka||v Zimbabwe||Test # 1470|
|RP Arnold||104*||231||Sri Lanka||v Zimbabwe||Test # 1474|
|D Elgar||118*||214||South Africa||v England||Test # 2196|
|D Elgar||86*||177||South Africa||v India||Test # 2294|
|D Elgar||141*||311||South Africa||v Australia||Test # 2300|
|FDM Karunaratne||158*||287||Sri Lanka||v South Africa||Test # 2311|
NOTE: Since Sri Lanka was granted Test status in 1982, four of their players have carried their bat through a completed Test innings. Over the same time period, South Africa have had two players who have carried their bat, with Dean Elgar having performed this feat of skill and endurance on three occasions. Elgar shares joint-first place with West Indies legend Desmond Haynes on the list of batsmen who have carried their bat in a Test match the most times.
Photo: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images