Karunaratne backs Sri Lanka pace attack

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Zimbabwe's Sikandar Raza (L) reacts after being hit by a ball that Sri Lanka's Lahiru Kumara (R) delivered while umpire Nitin Menon (C) looks on during the second day of the first Test cricket match between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka at the Harare Sports Club in Harare on January 20, 2020. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP) (Photo by JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP via Getty Images)

Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne has faith that his seam attack has the quality to trouble South Africa batsmen in their upcoming Test series.

South Africa host a Sri Lanka team who have brought one of their best allround pace attacks in recent memory.

Karunaratne backs Sri Lanka pace

The Proteas have fast bowlers capable of topping the 150 kmph mark but have admitted that injury problems are plaguing their attack.

Sri Lanka on the other hand have an attack that is by and large fit and raring to go and most of them have experience of South African conditions.  

Experienced seamer Suranga Lakmal is the only concern from a fitness point of view having picked up a niggling injury in training.

Karunaratne is confident that the likes of Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara can match their hosts for pace.

“We’re going to need the fast bowlers at Centurion and Wanderers,” Karunaratne said. “Last time we came to South Africa we didn’t have many options – Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera weren’t here. 

“This time we do have that strength, and we will need it. If the opposition thinks that we don’t have a lot of pace or bounce in our team, that emboldens them to use their conditions even more against us. But on this tour, we have fast bowlers, and if you look at pace, we’re about equal. 

“I think the batsmen will be the difference. Whoever is the better batting side has a good chance of winning the series.”

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne.

The skipper admitted that he was feeling nervous ahead of a return to international cricket. He missed Sri Lanka’s domestic first-class competition and therefore hasn’t had any cricket since 1 March.

Skipper and top-order rock

There will be pressure on Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis to produce the runs Sri Lanka will need to repeat their historic 2019 Test series win in South Africa.

“I haven’t been able to play much at all this year, partly because I had an injury for part of it,” Karunaratne said. “I’m feeling a little nervous about playing again, but I’m sure everyone is. Starting in Centurion is a big challenge, and once we got here we realised how hard it will be. But we’ve trained hard and everyone’s put in a lot of effort to adapt. Anyway there is pressure when you play overseas, but personally I think the pressure is kind of doubled on me because I haven’t had that any match practice. But I think once I hit a few balls in the middle, I’ll be okay.”