August 1, 2019 / 8:44 AM / 4 months ago

Lanka bench strength makes Karunaratne hopeful of fresh start

(Reuters) - Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne is impressed with the bench strength displayed during their one-day international series win over Bangladesh, saying the next generation of players represent a fresh start for the island nation.

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup - Sri Lanka Press Conference - Emerald Headingley, Headingley, Britain - June 20, 2019 Sri Lanka's Dimuth Karunaratne during the press conference Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith/File Photo

A solid all-round team performance led by Angelo Mathews’ 87 helped Sri Lanka secure a 122-run victory in the third ODI against Bangladesh on Wednesday, completing a 3-0 whitewash and a first home series win since Nov. 2015.

There were several encouraging performances from relatively young players, who were not part of Sri Lanka’s dismal World Cup campaign. Karunaratne feels this further reinforces the core group of talent and plan for the 2023 World Cup.

“I think after the World Cup we had to start again, and this time, we have to find some new talents,” he told reporters.

“The young players grabbed their chances really well... players whom we put in the team today put up their hands and did a great job.”

In the third ODI, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga came good with bat and ball, while seamer Kasun Rajith removed both Bangladesh openers in a blistering opening spell.

“This is the time we have to bring some youngsters for the next couple of years,” Karunaratne added.

“We’ve had an issue recently, where we didn’t have that strong bench. But players are now ready, and they’ll grab the chances that come their way.”

Karunaratne also pointed to players who have spent the last few months on the sidelines.

“Beyond this team, there are others around as well, who are unable to break into this side at the moment - players like Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka,” Karunaratne added.

“You need a lot of players to build up that competition within a team, so that players are constantly putting pressure on each other to perform.”

Sri Lanka next host New Zealand for two tests and three Twenty20 internationals. The first test begins in Galle on Aug. 14.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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