The Sri Lanka Test captain is one shy of equalling the world record for most 50-plus scores in consecutive innings
Karunaratne is within touching distance of three of Sri Lanka’s best ever batters, in Thilan Samaraweera (5462 runs), Tillakaratne Dilshan (5492), and Marvan Atapattu (5502). Although he is already 33, what is encouraging about his record is that since 2018, he averages 47.97, when he had averaged 37.08 before that.
“If I score another 100-150 more runs, I think I can surpass a few more players,” Karunaratne said. “I’d also like to play 100 Tests.”
His outstanding run tally in this match had come despite a long layoff from top-flight cricket – Sri Lanka having played their previous Test in early May (Karunaratne is no longer picked for ODIs). And although there was a domestic 50-over competition scheduled for October and November, many of those matches were washed out by the north-east monsoon, and in the games Karunaratne did play, he made only 17, 7 and, 18.
“I was quite worried before the Test because I hadn’t been able to train. I started training in October, and we were mainly doing fitness work. There weren’t a lot of skill sessions – only about five or six because of the rain. The weather didn’t give us a chance to play many domestic matches either, and even in the games I did play, I didn’t make a lot of runs. From the day I came here to Galle I worked really hard, but there was definitely a doubt as to whether I can score runs.
“With my calibre, I think if I get a start I can convert it into a big score. There was a nervous start in the first innings, but eventually I came into rhythm and that carried through into the second innings. I still think I haven’t reached my peak form though.”
“I think it’s a lot to do with experience,” he said of his consistency. ” When it comes to conditions, I know now when there’s going to be a lot of turn, or when there will be a little less. I’m sharing that information with the youngsters as well.
“And knowing that I had scored a lot of runs earlier in the year, there was less of a fear of failure also.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
BBL11 2021-22 – Bowling attack gives Melbourne Renegades hope of revival
The batting remains questionable and they will be looking for the youngsters to develop
Captain Nic Maddinson
Coach David Saker
Cameron Boyce, Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Josh Lalor, Shaun Marsh, Jono Merlo (replacement player), James Pattinson, Mitch Perry, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, James Seymour (replacement player), Will Sutherland, Nic Maddinson, Reece Topley (Eng), Unmukt Chand (Ind), Mohammad Nabi (Afg), Zahir Khan (Afg)
In Nic Maddinson, Jono Merlo, James Seymour, Reece Topley, Unmukt Chand, Zahir Khan
Out Beau Webster, Peter Hazloglou, Jon Holland, Benny, Howell, Noor Ahmed, Imran Tahir, Imad Wasim
It was another disastrous season for the Renegades finishing last for the second straight year. They won their first match and then lost seven in a row. Their batting was abysmal, bowled out for less than 90 on three occasions and 111 in another match against Adelaide. The bowling was nowhere near as effective as season’s past and they struggled to find a consistent unit as they mixed and matched their overseas players. There was one bright spot as they produced a brilliant chasing win over Melbourne Stars late in the season. Mackenzie Harvey starred smashing 47 not out from 21 balls to give a glimpse into the future.
Renegades have been severely impacted by both Australia selection and injury. Nic Maddinson‘s selection in the Australia A side to face England Lions means the new Renegades captain won’t get a chance to lead his new club until their fourth game at the earliest. Marcus Harris is set to miss most of the season due to Test duty. Aaron Finch is in doubt for the early games due to his ongoing knee issue while Shaun Marsh is set to miss at least half the tournament due to a calf tear. England does have tour of West Indies in the new year and Afghanistan is scheduled to visit Bangladesh but it is unknown if the likes of Reece Topley, Mohammad Nabi or Zahir Khan will need to leave the BBL early.
Reece Topley is an important recruit for Renegades and has a chance to make a serious statement to England selectors ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia next year. Fellow Englishman Harry Gurney was a key part of Renegades’ run to the title three years ago and Topley has a similar opportunity to cause havoc on the inconsistent home surface of Marvel Stadium.
Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)
Renegades were the worst bowling unit in the previous BBL edition. Their bowling economy rate of 8.61 was the highest among all teams and their death bowling economy was 11.24. If Renegades want to play finals, this is an area they need to focus on. Their attack certainly looks stronger this season
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo
Chris Gayle farewell on the cards with Jamaica set to host West Indies-Ireland series
The series will comprise three ODIs and a one-off T20I, all at Sabina Park
While Gayle will not be part of the ODI squad, with the series counting towards 2023 World Cup qualification through the Super League, the one-off fixture at Sabina Park could be used as his farewell game. ESPNcricinfo understands that a decision has yet to be made on Gayle’s inclusion but that the issue will be up for discussion at the next meeting of CWI’s board of directors later this month.
“It’s whether collectively we all feel that it’s appropriate for him to have one last game at home to say farewell in a one-off game,” Johnny Grave, CWI’s chief executive, told the Mason and Guest radio show in Barbados last month. “That Ireland series would represent that opportunity.
“It would certainly be appropriate, as far as I can see it, to treat our players and give them the opportunity to bow out – especially players like Chris who have had unbelievable careers and won trophies for the West Indies.”
“We are pleased to be returning to the Caribbean where we have so many great memories,” Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland’s performance director, said. “The World Cup Super League is a crucial set of fixtures for Ireland as we attempt to qualify for the next Cricket World Cup, and – if the series in 2020 is anything to go by – we look forward to a highly competitive series in January.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
Bangladesh tour of NZ BCB approves Shakib Al Hasan’s request to skip New Zealand tour
Nazmul Hassan says BCB has no problem with players wanting a break, but says it should happen via official channels
“We have accepted his request,” Hassan said. “We have been saying this for a long time that we have no objection if a player wants to take a break or rest, but it has to be informed officially. The thing is, we want to be informed about such a decision in advance as it is difficult for us if it is informed suddenly. From January, if anyone wants a break, he has to inform us in advance so that we can prepare alternatives.”
This is the third time in 2021 that Shakib has skipped a tour for Bangladesh. He opted out of the white-ball tour of New Zealand in March due to paternity leave before missing the two Tests against Sri Lanka in April to play in the IPL.
Hassan felt Shakib should have asked for the leave officially, rather than informing them verbally.
“This [the confusion] is not embarrassing, to be honest. We simply didn’t know about it, officially,” Hassan said. “The thing is, these things have always happened unofficially. Now, to avoid confusion, we are emphasising that these matters should be official.”
Bangladesh’s tour of New Zealand includes two Tests, part of the World Test Championship, beginning on New Year’s Day. The team will leave on December 9 to complete quarantine and then play practice matches.
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