Sri Lanka in Australia 2012-13

Paranavitana yet to cement his spot

Andrew Fernando

December 4, 2012

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A

Tharanga Paranavitana was bowled in the first over, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st Test, Galle, 2nd day, November 18, 2012
Tharanga Paranavitana made only 71 runs in four innings in the recent series against New Zealand © Associated Press
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As Australia ponder the output of their Test openers, Sri Lanka have an opening conundrum brewing of their own. In ODIs, Sri Lanka are so awash with talent, they routinely play four capable openers in the XI, yet in Tests there has been a dearth of men with technique and mettle to chisel out a long-term role atop the batting order.

Sri Lanka's last tour of Australia in 2007 was Marvan Atapattu's swansong, and his long-time partner Sanath Jayasuriya played his final Test not long after. Though Tillakaratne Dilshan has advanced Jayasuriya's legacy in the years since, Sri Lanka have not found a bona-fide successor for Atapattu, though several have been trialled.

Tharanga Paranavitana has had a steady spell of opportunities since his debut in early 2009, but while he has shared Atapattu's penchant for collecting ducks, his career has also been frustrated by middling scores and a limited range of strokes. At times he has been defensively capable, but mentally tentative - particularly susceptible outside off stump, where his powers of judgement have been found frail.

Paranavitana had appeared to overcome a slow start in Test cricket when he made hundreds in back-to-back matches against India in 2010, but has not crossed triple figures in 39 innings since. Sri Lanka rightly acknowledge that their domestic competition does not produce opening batsmen who can find immediate success in Test cricket, but with 32 matches now behind him, the team may have hoped Paranavitana was further along in his development. In 2012, he has played 10 innings and made only one 50, averaging a shade below 30.

Perhaps partly in the hope of spurring Paranavitana's stagnating output, Sri Lanka have taken a spare left-hand opener to Australia. Dimuth Karunaratne got a Test debut when Dilshan sat out the first Test against New Zealand through injury, and a sparkling unbeaten half-century in the second innings of that match earned him a place in the squad to Australia a day later. Sri Lanka are unlikely to displace Paranavitana early in the series, but Karunaratne's presence will serve as a statement to Paranavitana that he cannot subsist on the selector's largesse for long.

"Dimuth has been around for a long time and when he got his opportunity in Galle he showed his potential," Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's captain, said ahead of the series. "It's healthy for everyone to have some sort of competition in order to push ourselves to keep improving."

Jayawardene has seen both men develop at first-class level: they open together for the Sinhalese Sports Club, where Jayawardene also cut his teeth. Though Karunaratne and Paranavitana will compete for a spot in the XI in Australia, they have been earmarked as potential long-term openers when Dilshan retires from Tests. Karunaratne's aggression has complemented Paranavitana's more circumspect approach in their time together at SSC, and Jayawardene suggested the synergy they have established in domestic cricket may help ensure a successful partnership in years to come.


"What we're looking into developing for the future is to try and get a combination that will be there for a while. It's very important that the two guys are comfortable and understand each other's game, because the start makes a big difference.

"I think Dimuth adjusted pretty well to international cricket. He knows his game quite well, which helps him. International cricket is always going to be a big step up for anybody. We've said to Dimuth that the first six months will be a honeymoon period after which the other teams will analyse you and then it will get tougher. He has got a good head to handle all that. Tharanga is another guy who I've played with quite a bit and who has had that same kind of commitment. We need to make sure we help them develop."


For the moment, Paranavitana's place is the only one in any sort of contention in Sri Lanka's top seven. Jayawardene believed Paranavitana's inability to make his position his own despite the extended run is not down to flaws in technique.


"It's about consistency. From time to time we've had chats with him and the coaches have been working with him. I think he's got the technique, but it's the mental approach that he sometimes makes mistakes with. Technically he's very sound, but he needs to approach certain situations differently. He needs to work hard at that.

"It's a tough position. Openers always will always have tough times. That's not just in the Sri Lankan team, that happens in other international sides as well. You need to show authority and feel confidence about that position. That's where everything is being set up for the rest of the batting order."

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Peternarendra on (December 6, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

Srilankan selectors usually include poor players in the team while captains without back bone help those guys. For example, paranawithana in tests: arnold, upul tharanaga, chamara silva, thilan in ODIs: chamara silva, mubaraq in T20s have been a headache for srilankan cricked during the past decade. Those type of selections resulted in losses in 2003,2007,2011 WCs and 2009,2010,2012 T20s. When selecting a batsman for ODIs, he should have the ability to clear the boundary when need. He may have some sort of bowling abilities. Sanath, Aravinda, Symonds, Sehwag, Ganguly, Kallis, Gayle, Samuels are the great examples. If the batsman cannot bowl, he should be a reliable batsman and a great fielder. Ponting, Gilchrist, Dhoni are such a batsmans. But in Srilanka, some batsman who cannot bowl are the batsmans who cannot clear the boundary, who drops catches while bitting finger nails in the field, who keeps the average (eg:100 from 130 bowls or 50 from 80 bowls) when the asking rate is high.

Posted by cricket12namal on (December 6, 2012, 2:42 GMT)

mgsperera whats wrong with u ? Upul tharanga is a great player..plz look at his records.upul is one of the great timers in cricket world.

Posted by shark77 on (December 5, 2012, 18:49 GMT)

some guys needs their favourite player to be in the side even some commentators(managers)need to do that,but test cricket need technique para is sound technique batter than upul or chandimal only problem is his mentality...we need to hel him to get out from it by not presure him mainly by media,,,then u can see back to back centuries ..compare the avarages of first class,and tests..he is well ahead of upul,dinesh and lahiru...

Posted by colombo_SL on (December 5, 2012, 16:31 GMT)

Play Paranawithana at the first test as the opener. If he fail in the first one, include Dimuth in the 2nd test. I think Paranavithana may be very useful like Thilan Samaraweera in Australia. We want a long inning & hold one end fixed from Para in Australia. Dilshan can play at his own way. I'm pretty sure, Paranavithana may answer from his bat for those questions about him.

Posted by mgsperera on (December 5, 2012, 13:57 GMT)

Here Iam throwing out Paranavitana's performances -

Matches in 2011/12 -- 16 (Innings 32 ) 50+ runs -- 6 times (HS is 76* ) Number of Ducks -- 7 times Dismiss below 20 -- 14 times

But Still in the Playing 11 ahead of Chandimal / Thirimanne / Dimuth ...

Posted by mgsperera on (December 5, 2012, 12:35 GMT)

Both " THARANGA" are spoling the Sri Lanka Cricket . ..One is Upul Tharanga & the other is Tharanga Paranavitana !!! Pls send them home for Godsake !!!!! or else send Mahela & Demel home as these two who back them !!!!

Posted by cricket12namal on (December 5, 2012, 10:26 GMT)

plz bring back upul tharanga as test opener,he has 12 odi centuries.wonderful opener for srilanka last seven years.in odis upul has 6 double century partnerships.286 is the best 1st wicket partnership in odis ever(upul and sanath ) 282 (upul and dilshan) second best..plz mr.ashantha select upul for the test matches.upul is still 27 years only..goodluck upul

Posted by SMCchintu on (December 5, 2012, 9:48 GMT)

I completely agree with Mahela which, Paranavithana and Dimuth may be the future opening batsmen's for Sri Lanka. Dilshan is playing a lot. He should have some sort of rest to perform well in ODI and T20, as it is Paranawithana is playing only TEST. Therefore he needs much more opportunities to show his Talent on the crease. I know him very well; He is the much talented opening Batsman today as Mavan Athapattu.

Posted by SarathW on (December 5, 2012, 8:58 GMT)

I agree that Paranavitana should not be in the team. He is too slow and put pressure on the other batsman. Upul Tharanga who is a proven perfomer should be given more opportunities. Thirimana and Karuratna seems to be better choices.As long as Asantha De Mel is a selector, the Sri Lanka team will be a loosing team. Where are Ajantha Mendis and Tissara Perera? The sports minister says there is no political interference cricket.He should wear a clown's hat.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 8:26 GMT)

Chandimal is not a genuine opener, and Dilshan is not a test opener. SL need to find a remedy fast.

Posted by IanJF on (December 5, 2012, 7:16 GMT)

Matthews will cement he's class as a m/order Test batsmen.. Dimuth.K must play, there is no other player who plays as good as this guy on the "Back-foot"..! You need good back foot players in SAF and AUS

Posted by SarathW on (December 5, 2012, 1:40 GMT)

Paranavitana should only get one more chance in the test side to prove he is a worthy batsmen. Whyare Upul Tharanga and Tissara Perera not in the team? He is more suited to play test cricket than limited over game. If Paranavithana fails, Karunaratna or Chandimal should take his place. Thirimanna is also a much better prospect than Paranavithana. This team will not have much success as long as Asantha De Mel is a selector.

posted by Sarath W

Posted by Test-is-the-best on (December 5, 2012, 0:51 GMT)

Why the captain and this selction committee need to persist on Paranavithana as the opener???. 2 hundereds in 30 odd matches, Avegare of 32 runs per inning is a poor record for a opening batsmen.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 5, 2012, 0:42 GMT)

Please play Chandimal in the tests taking into account his away record. Cant you ask for anything better than twin fifties on debut, which he achieved in our historic first ever test win in South Africa?

Posted by Mandernew on (December 4, 2012, 20:47 GMT)

Sorry guys... this statement could be bit rude.But for the sake of the country may Para and PJ have minor niggles and be unavailable for the first test.....

Posted by stormy16 on (December 4, 2012, 19:23 GMT)

I dont get the logic of the obsession with Para who doesnt have the technique to sruvive neither the shots to put the presure on the opposition. What's more there are other options in Dimuth and more convincingly Chandi. Why SL pursue with Para ahead of the thes two and presumably many more in the shadows is just insane. Then again SL does some strange things with selections and will remain one of their greatest challenges.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 18:45 GMT)

He just lets the bowlers settle into a nice rhythm by missing balls outside off, playing dot balls and just offering a dead bat to everything.this guy has been given 32 mtchs 60 inngs to prove himself and he has fallen short by a long way.he makes batting look like the worst task in history.

Posted by Prema1948 on (December 4, 2012, 17:24 GMT)

Attapattu &Hashan were removed from the Side), local media has always avoid commenting on the weaknesses of the 3. They,the local media is always ready to highlight a slightest mistakes of promising youngsters, even though they completely ignore every shortcoming of seniors. The problem facing these quality players like P'withana , C'mal,T'manne & Karunatathne is that ,they 're always compelled to bat with tremendous pressure of not being sure of their place for the next match. Mathews too will be in the same boat if he was just a batter. In my opinion none of these 3 seniors needed in this team at a time , because the Country has enough promising youngsters who have been showing their class since their age of 15.

Posted by Prema1948 on (December 4, 2012, 17:23 GMT)

He Is the Best Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer of the in 2001. He should have been brought into the Side very much earlier than he was . Since these J&Ps have a habit of preferring henchmen to these quality proven players many a brilliant schoolboy cricketers of the last 25 years were not able to find their due place in the Team. Paranawithana has more control over his strokes than any (rather favorite flat track bullies known for reckless risky stroke making who are yet to learn the ways of middling the ball at consistent basis though they have 400-500 International match experience). If he wasn't out to the very 1st ball of the 2nd innings we could have easily save that 2nd Test because he is one of four quality batters(S'weera,M'thews&Prasnna) included in that final Test. Though the 3 seniors have known history of inability to bat under pressure(we couldn't or hardly won a series since the solid controlled stroke-makers such as (to be CNTD)

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 17:06 GMT)

Drop Paranavitana please and let either Dimuth or Chandimal open. Specially chandimal enjoy playing on pacy tracks

Posted by Htc-Android on (December 4, 2012, 16:48 GMT)

this guy played 32 test matches as an opener and he only scored 2 centuries and he averages 32. he is nothing other than an ordinary batsmen. dimuth and chandimal will do much better than this guy. although they are inexperienced.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 16:31 GMT)

The blame cannot be blamed just on Tharanga Paranavithana as almost all of the top order batsmen failed to score in the New Zealand test series. He's got the potential and the talent but yet he is under pressure in every way. Once he scores a Ton then we will be seeing Tharanga back in action!

Posted by PrasadGunawardane on (December 4, 2012, 16:07 GMT)

I believe there should be no hesitation on picking Dimuth as the opener right from the practice match along with Dilshan. Paranavithana has not succeeded in showing the fact that experience makes things easy. Even-though Mahela said that Dimuth and Paranavithana will be settling as Lankan TEST openers after the retirement of Dilshan, my money is completely different to that. There are so many batsmen to be found out in Paranavithana's caliber and he is not showing any specialty to open in a top TEST side in the world. SL Cricket must work on a good solid right hander to bring up and set with Dimuth as the opening combination. There is no way in the world, one must be a slow run collector when it comes to TEST opener. If any body has his own temperament, then gathering runs quickly is never ever going to be odd in TEST Cricket. Great Sanath (averaged 40 in TEST), Gayle and many have proved it.

Posted by Karnain on (December 4, 2012, 15:49 GMT)

I can't really understand selectors mindset. They prefer a player who hasn't learn any thing in 32 Tests over a player who learnt from his mistakes after just 1 failure. Let's hope Dimuth play well in the warm up match.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 15:42 GMT)

That's good."Piranha"vitana is a useless opener.He is eating balls like a Piranha fish.Making 50 from 140 deliveries is not for an opener.Sack him.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 15:23 GMT)

what surprises me is how he has managed to hold onto his position.

Posted by PrasadGunawardane on (December 4, 2012, 15:00 GMT)

I believe there should be no hesitation on picking Dimuth as the opener right from the practice match along with Dilshan. Paranavithana has not succeeded in showing the fact that experience makes things easy. Even-though Mahela said that Dimuth and Paranavithana will be settling as Lankan TEST openers after the retirement of Dilshan, my money is completely different to that. There are so many batsmen to be found out in Paranavithana's caliber and he is not showing any specialty to open in a top TEST side in the world. SL Cricket must work on a good solid right hander to bring up and set with Dimuth as the opening combination. There is no way in the world, one must be a slow run collector when it comes to TEST opener. If any body has his own temperament, then gathering runs quickly is never ever going to be odd in TEST Cricket. Great Sanath (averaged 40 in TEST), Gayle and many have proved it.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 14:53 GMT)

Dilshan is not a test opener. He is just a slasher with not much temperament to stay at the crease. For SL to do well in Australia, Mahela and Sangakkara, as usual, have to stay at the crease for long, long times.

Posted by DwightR on (December 4, 2012, 14:46 GMT)

replace paranavitana with chandimal! Paranavitana has been given plently of chances and is clearly the weakest link in the line up with very limited potential, Chandimal should be given the oppourtunity at least to prove his mettle in the test game.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 14:35 GMT)

I don't why they keep persistent with Paranawitana who is nothing but a failure at the top. They should have dropped him at least a year ago. SL captain wanted Thirimanna to ODI's and even T20, but not for Tests where his style of play more suitable with. Meanwhile, Chandimal, who scored a sound 65 in his last Test innings against Pakistan, continues to find the bench despite being Sri Lanka's best batsman in foreign conditions. For gods sake, at least replace Paranawitana with Karunaratne!

Posted by MilroyL.S.A.Don on (December 4, 2012, 14:33 GMT)

Why would the selectors let Dimuth sit on the bench after scoring a half century and encouraging Tharanga Paranavithana? This doesn't help SL cricket to find replacements since our senior players are very close to end their careers. I like your comment about creating a competition among players, however this needs to happen. This would discourage the young cricketers and build a huge gap in SL cricket development plans in the future. **THE STRATEGY WOULD BE BRINGING MORE YOUNG TALENT AND CREATING A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE**

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 14:31 GMT)

Don't worry, he will score a century somewhere and will be good for the next 10 matches.

Posted by lananad on (December 4, 2012, 14:28 GMT)

Paranawithana is a waste of time. Please drop him and persist with Dimuth who looks a much better player. Paranawithana will be a walking wicket in Australia.I am surprise the selectors never realised it.

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