A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPORT: Tharanga Paranavitana still looking to secure spot on Test roster

Paranavitana has continuously struggled against deliveries on and around his off-stump

Sri Lanka batsman Tharanga Paranavitana is still yet to cement his spot in the country’s Test squad after having a frustrating spell of ducks and scores in the 20s and 30s.

Despite making his debut in 2009 and being given a countless number of opportunities, Paranavitana has been unable to break out of this rather irritating habit.

Cricket pundits have been quick to highlight that while his defence may be solid, Paranavitana seems to be extremely susceptible when the ball is pitched on and around off-stump.

Paranavitana seemed to have broken out of this bad habit after scoring back-to-back centuries against India in 2010, but it was not to be as the batsman has failed to reach triple figures in the 39 innings that followed.

Sri Lanka have already admitted that their domestic league does not produce opening batsmen capable of scoring centuries right away in Test cricket, but after having played 32 Test matches, the national selectors were expecting much more from Paranavitana.

In 2012, Paranavitana played 10 innings and scored only one half-century, which has seen his average slip to just a touch below 30.

While Sri Lanka may have lost all hope in Paranavitana, they have found a replacement in Dimuth Karunaratne, who impressed his team-mates and the national selectors with his performance against New Zealand.

While Paranavitana might still be hovering around the opening spot right now, Karunaratne’s presence will definitely give him the message that if he continues to post poor scores, then he will be replaced.

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

However, Jayawardene also mentioned that both batsmen would become long-term openers after veteran Tillakaratne Dilshan announces his retirement from Test cricket.

The Sri Lanka captain pointed out that Paranavitana and Karunaratne would be successful as the future openers since both of them play for the same team in the domestic league.

“What we’re looking into developing for the future is to try and get a combination that will be there for a while,” Jayawardene said. “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.”

As of right now, Paranavitana’s spot is the only one under contention out of the seven batsmen in the side and Jayawardene attributed Paranavitana’s struggles to consistency instead of flaws in his technique.

“It’s about consistency,” Jayawardene added. “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.”

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