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When Niroshan Dickwella sought Asela Gunaratne’s advice in SL’s record chase

With Sri Lanka under fire after an ODI series loss to Zimbabwe, it was left to the rookie batsmen to pull the team to a sensational win in the one-off Test in Colombo.

cricket Updated: Jul 20, 2017 20:49 IST
HT Correspondent
India vs Sri Lanka,Niroshan Dickwella,Asela Gunaratne
Asela Gunaratne (R) and Niroshan Dickwella run between the wickets during the final day of a one-off Test match between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.(AFP)

Niroshan Dickwella and Asela Gunaratne have played a combined 12 Tests for Sri Lanka, and it is fair to say the pressure was huge when they found themselves together at the crease in the recent one-off Test against Zimbabwe in Colombo.

The knives were already out for the hosts after a humiliating 2-3 ODI series loss to the unfancied southern Africans. To top it, Sri Lanka were set a mammoth fourth-innings target of 388 by Zimbabwe, and at 203/5, Sri Lanka’s hopes of avoiding another embarrassing loss was in the hands of Dickwella and Gunaratne.

They held firm, combining for a crucial 121-run stand to set up a thrilling four-wicket win, sealing Sri Lanka’s highest fourth innings chase, and the fifth highest overall in Test history.

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Dickwella scored 81 while Gunaratne was unbeaten on 80 as the hosts snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Talking through the innings

After the game, Gunaratne revealed how Dickwella asked him to keep talking to him throughout the partnership, helping him take control of the situation.

“Since he came to the crease, what Dickwella told me was: ‘Talk to me all the time, and make me score runs’,” Gunaratne was quoted as saying by ESPN Cricinfo.

“I think what he meant was he hasn’t scored a big Test innings, where I have. He just wanted me to tell him how to handle situations. Sometimes when the game was going a certain way, he wanted me to keep advising him. Occasionally, I’d tell him not to go for certain shots. In the end, he stuck around and scored.”

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New Test skipper Dinesh Chandimal also praised Gunaratne.

“I told Asela this morning: ‘You’re going to get a hundred today’. But very confidently, Asela said to me: ‘No Chandi, there won’t be need for me to get a 100. I’ll get 70 and win the game.’ That’s the kind of faith I expect from my players.

“There’s a chance he might not have been able to do that today, but the way he spoke, even I became confident as a captain that we could win this match. I’m really happy I have players like that,” he said.

Sri Lanka host India in a three-Test series starting on July 26.

First Published: Jul 20, 2017 20:49 IST