Dimuth Karunaratne - An extremely underrated opener of our times

South Africa v Sri Lanka - Second Test Day 2
South Africa v Sri Lanka - Second Test Day 2

Dimuth Karunaratne is a man brimming with confidence. And why wouldn’t he? He is having a phenomenal 2021 with the bat. A match-winning performance in the first test vs West Indies, and then a handy 42 in the first innings of the 2nd test. His growth as a Test opener has been one of the stories of 2021.

Though his name has only come to prominence this year, he has been one of the best openers going around since his debut in November 2012. Only David Warner and Alastair Cook have played more matches than him in that period. His average of 40 has been among the best as well.

Karunaratne’s rise in Test Cricket

Dimuth was dismissed for a duck in his first ever test innings. Playing against New Zealand in Galle, Karunaratne was caught in front of the wickets of a Southee in-dipper. He followed that up with a fluent run-a-ball 60 in the second innings, helping Sri Lanka cruise through to the 93-run target.

Since his debut, he has had the most caps as a Sri Lankan batsman. But it wasn’t until 2018 that his stock really started to rise in Tests. He had a run of four consecutive 50+ scores against South Africa, who were visiting Sri Lanka for a 2-test match series.

The magnum opus was an unbeaten 158 in a team total of 287, carrying his bat. He followed that up with three 50s against a visiting England team, and a fantastic 79 against New Zealand in Wellington.

Since then, he has had a counter-attacking century against South Africa in Johannesburg, a mammoth double century in Bangladesh, and half-centures in Australia, Pakistan and against New Zealand at home.

Since 2018, Dimuth Karunaratne has averaged 48.42 as an opener (Only Rohit Sharma and Abid Ali have a better average in this period). 2021 has been the year when he has been among the headlines a lot more often, but he has been growing in confidence and stature for quite a while now.

The Race to 10000 Runs for Dimuth Karunaratne

Sri Lankan batting history in terms of runs scored thus far has been Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and the rest. Karunaratne will be looking to add his name to that elite twosome. He mentioned at the end of the first test that he has his sights set on Mt. 10000 and 100 Tests.

Can Karunaratne reach 10000 Test Runs?
Can Karunaratne reach 10000 Test Runs?

At 33 years of age, he has more cricket behind him than in front of him. However, the Sri Lankan captain will be looking at maximizing his current peak form and bridge the gap to 10000 runs. With 5448 Test runs under his belt, 10000 may look a touch out of reach. But with Karunaratne’s confidence and panache, it certainly looks achievable.

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Edited by Rohit Mishra
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