Malinga has been helping me since childhood – Chamika

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After levelling the series in Pallekele on Thursday, the two teams move back to Colombo for the third ODI, with both teams eyeing to take the lead in the five-match series when they clash at the R. Premadasa Stadium today (19).

It was all-rounder Chamika Karunarathne who got the prize wicket of Glenn Maxwell that turned the game around. On many occasions it was Maxwell who stood between Sri Lanka and victory, where he is unbeaten against Sri Lanka in One day cricket for almost 6 years since 2016.

Maxwell averages 52 against Sri Lanka at a strike rate of 150, while in T20s he averages 52 at a strike rate of 175, which speaks of the level of danger he poses. On Thursday in a chase of 216, he was on 30 and looking to finish things off when Karunarathne foxed him with a short-pitched ball outside off stump with pace after two consecutive slower ones, which Maxwell sliced high into the air and skipper Shanaka gleefully accepted the catch.

Karunarathne said he worked hard at the nets, and credited bowling strategy coach Lasith Malinga for his improvement. He went on to say Malinga has been helping him since school days.

“Everyone helped a lot. Malinga’s tactics of how to think out of the box was inspirational. He has been helping me a lot since I was 17-18 when I played school cricket. Also, the head coach helped me a lot after the Bangladesh tour and made some strategic changes. Former coach Chaminda Vaas and Darshana Gamage have also been helpful,” said Karunarathne, who returned career best figures of 3 for 47 which earned him the man of the match award.

Karunarathne reckoned it was Dhananjaya de Silva’s first spell which got Sri Lanka’s hopes up, as de Silva removed both openers (David Warner and Aaron Finch) cheaply.

Karunarathne reckons R. Premadasa Stadium is a tad slower than Pallekele, and they were able to identify the mistakes which cost them two T20s in Colombo before coming to Kandy.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is hoping Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva will make a speedy recovery as they walk into the more spin friendly Colombo wickets, while Australia is hoping for the return of Mitchell Starc.

Starc sliced open his left index finger on his shoe spike during his follow through in the T20I series opener last week. The 32-year-old has been able to bowl full steam at training in recent days, but ICC rules prevent bowlers from using tape on their fingers, which means Starc hasn’t been able to feature in games.

Starc had the stitches removed on Thursday, but just how well his finger recovers from this point on will determine whether he will be fit for game three of the ODI series on Sunday. 

By Anjana Kaluarachchi