Dimuth Karunaratne – 'When Tamim attacks, it's hard for us to recover'


“It’s possible that if we try to reduce his rate of scoring, the chances of him making a mistake are higher”

Try to get him lbw early. Try to get him out with offspin. And if none of that works, dry up the runs.

This, according to captain Dimuth Karunaratne, is Sri Lanka’s plan to dismiss Tamim Iqbal – Bangladesh’s top scorer in the first Test. Although he didn’t score a century, Iqbal’s 90 off 101 helped set Bangladesh on track for their mammoth total, before his 74 not out off 98 in the second dig crushed any hope of a Sri Lanka victory, after the hosts had claimed two quick wickets.

Iqbal, in general, has been effective in Sri Lanka. On the last tour, his 82 off 125 balls had seen Bangladesh chase down a tricky target in Colombo, leading to their only Test win over Sri Lanka.

“We might have both Dhananjaya de Silva and Ramesh Mendis in the team, so we’d have two offspinners, and in the last few series Tamim hasn’t played offspinners that well,” Karunaratne said ahead of the second Test. “The first five or ten overs, Suranga Lakmal also has a good chance of getting him out. The way Tamim plays, there are lbw opportunities. So we’ve got plans like that. If that doesn’t work, we’ll try to get him into a defensive mode.”

In addition to averaging 62.85 in Sri Lanka, Iqbal also has an excellent strike rate of 62.14 on the island. Sri Lanka believe tamping down his scoring rate may mean a lower average too.

“Tamim scores quickly and really tries to unsettle the bowlers and put them under pressure. It’s possible that if we try to reduce his rate of scoring, the chances of him making a mistake are higher. In the first Test we tried very hard to get him out, and what happened was that we leaked a lot of runs. In this match we’re planning to close up his big scoring areas and get him to play more defensively. When he attacks more, we do give away a lot of runs, and it’s hard for us to recover.”

In the absence of Lasith Embuldeniya (who is injured) and Dilruwan Perera (who failed to meet fitness requirements), however, Sri Lanka’s spin attack does not have substantial menace on paper. Karunaratne hopes his attack is nevertheless capable of taking 20 wickets.

“These are the resources that I’ve got as captain. In the past we had Rangana Herath, and also Dilruwan Perera. You can’t expect the same performance you expect from a Herath from a spinner who’s only played a few matches. I think they’ll show what their got, though. As a captain I’m trying to figure out how to get them to perform. What Herath and Dilruwan Perera did – we can’t expect that. But if they can do 70% or 80% of that, that’ll be great. It’ll take the spinners some time.”

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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