Leicestershire v Ruhuna, CLT20 qualifier, Hyderabad September 21, 2011

Chandimal has the composure for Tests

Dinesh Chandimal carries himself with the smile of a schoolboy. His batting does not have the regal touch of Kumar Sangakkara or the raw power of MS Dhoni. What he has displayed so far in his short career is the pluck of Romesh Kaluwitharana allied with the patience to build an innings, a skill that has brought him consecutive half-centuries in the Champions League Twenty20 qualifier.

In both matches, he came in early at No. 3 following the fall of Sanath Jayasuriya - the past of Sri Lankan cricket - and provided a glimpse into its future. He batted like he keeps wicket, busily and intelligently. It took him seven balls to get off the mark today but not once did he betray any signs of desperation. And the way he scored his first runs was telling. Offspinner Jigar Naik had kept him quiet with a succession of quick deliveries fired in full. Off the last ball of the over, Chandimal coolly made some room and lofted Naik over extra cover for six.

As he had done against Trinidad and Tobago, he played spin with assured hands and quick feet, lofting cleanly whenever the opportunity was there. In the subcontinent, where he will play most of his cricket, that usually proves to be a productive combination.

Chandimal chose the right pace to target when he picked on Abdul Razzaq, pulling and flicking him for three of his six fours. The quicker Wayne White, however, troubled him as had T&T's Ravi Rampaul, who had dismissed him when he top-edged a pull. There will be time for the 21-year old Chandimal to work on that aspect of his game.

He has expressed his desire to take over from Prasanna Jayawardene for Sri Lanka in Test cricket. And that is why it was a touch pleasing to see that he struggled to time the cross-batted swipes at the death. It is clearly not something that comes naturally to him. He is much more comfortable batting the correct and orthodox way, even in the shortest format.

He is safe behind the stumps and bustles with energy on the field. He cringes at dropped chances and has regular words of advice for his captain. A first-class average of 58.52 points at huge potential and it is inevitable that Chandimal will increasingly put more and more pressure on the much older Jayawardene for the Test keeper's slot.

Chandimal has been judged good enough to be played as a specialist batsman in ODIs with Sangakkara still having not given up keeping in the format. With Sri Lanka opting to ignore Thilan Samaraweera for the upcoming Tests against Pakistan, Chandimal's Test cap might not be far away, whether with the larger gloves or without them.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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