Karunaratne gives players 'freedom to go and express themselves 100%' - Dickwella

Need to keep 'making good decisions at crunch moments', says the wicketkeeper-batsman as Sri Lanka chase series sweep against New Zealand

Dimuth Karunaratne has Niroshan Dickwella's comeplete support

Dimuth Karunaratne has Niroshan Dickwella's comeplete support  •  Getty Images

Dimuth Karunaratne, Sri Lanka's relatively new captain, doesn't ride players hard, doesn't tear them down for taking aggressive options, and when criticism is required, he ensures it's constructive. Perhaps this is all a bit sappy, but it is the feedback from several members of this Sri Lanka dressing room.
Thisara Perera spoke of Karunaratne being "like a brother" during the World Cup campaign. Acting coach Rumesh Ratnayake spoke of the calmness Karunaratne spreads through the dressing room. And now, ahead of the second Test against New Zealand, Niroshan Dickwella has given Sri Lanka's fifth Test captain in three years an endorsement of his own.
Dickwella had been Karunaratne's deputy during the Test series victory in South Africa. And although no vice-captain has been officially named for this series, with Dickwella's own place in the XI not assured ahead of the first Test, he spoke about the unique qualities Karunaratne has brought to the role.
"Dimuth is a very different kind of captain," he said. "His way of managing players is different, and every captain has their own style. I've played a lot with Dimuth and what he does is give the player the freedom to go and express themselves 100% in the match.
"What Dimuth says is go and do what you want to do, and what you feel you can do. If we make a mistake, he'll pull us aside and say this happened, why don't we fix that mistake for next time? He talks a lot about being confident about your abilities. And he gives you that confidence."
Sri Lanka have so far won each of the three Tests they have played under Karunaratne, but they arrive now at a venue at which they have struggled. Sri Lanka have lost five of their seven most recent Tests at the P Sara Oval, including their last match to New Zealand here, in 2012. The pitch, Dickwella said, should favour fast bowlers and batsmen more than the Galle surface, on which neither team crossed 300. Sri Lanka's victory in Galle was ultimately comfortable, but the team remains wary of a New Zealand resurgence, particularly at a venue that often provides good bounce for seam bowlers.
"It's a big challenge. Having won one game, we have a big responsibility to win the series. We have the confidence, but we need to keep making good decisions at crunch moments," Dickwella said. "Close-in fielders, including me, have missed some chances in Galle, but those were difficult chances - you don't have even seconds to react. But still, we spoke about that. We're happy to improve on those areas.
"In the batting, we were 142 for 2 and then collapsed to 168 for 7 in the first-innings, so we have to improve on that as well. When it comes to bowling, when one bowler is bowling well, from one end, we need to build a partnership from the other end as well."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf