Dimuth Karunaratne, who will be leading Sri Lanka side in the forthcoming ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, scored a brilliant half-century on his captaincy debut to guide his side towards a 35-run victory (DLS method) in their second ODI against Scotland at the Grange Club on Sunday. Karunaratne had not played an ODI match since the previous edition of World Cup. Hence, the match proved to be a test for his leadership and batting abilities. Karunaratne smashed 77 runs off 88 deliveries and said that the inning gave him confidence. “Playing an international one-dayer after such a long time is not easy. I was under pressure early on and was struggling a little bit. But once I got set and thought about how to play – which bowlers I should target – I felt better. Fortunately, I got a couple of chances. But thanks to the runs I got, I got some confidence,” ESPN Cricinfo quoted Karunaratne, as saying.

The first ODI between both the teams got abandoned without a ball being bowled due to rain. In the second ODI, Sri Lanka were put to bat first and they put up a score of 322 runs on the board. However, Scotland’s inning was cut short to 34 overs due to rain. The hosts faced a 35-run (DLS method) defeat after their whole team was sent back to the pavilion on just 199 runs. Karunaratne had opened the inning with Avishka Fernando and both played brilliantly as they formed a 123-run partnership for the first wicket. Karunaratne praised Fernando’s 74-run inning and expressed his firm belief of him scoring a ‘big hundred’ in the premier tournament.

“Avishka was excellent as well. We know how capable he is. He can hit hard and rotate the strike as well. We talked to him about what we needed from him. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get a hundred, but I think he can get a big hundred in the World Cup,” he said. Kusal Mendis also played an amazing knock of 66 runs off just 56 balls. However, it was not just the batting department which produced a scintillating performance as bowling department too played an equal role in the victory. Nuwan Pradeep took four wickets and conceded just 34 runs in his seven overs.

While eulogising Pradeep, Karunaratne said: “It’s not easy to bowl yorkers, especially with the ball getting wet because of the rain. If you don’t execute it well it will go for a six. But Pradeep knows how he has to bowl, and he went for the straight yorker. I hope he takes that confidence into the World Cup.”

Sri Lanka will open their World Cup 2019 campaign against New Zealand on June 1.