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Frank Dimuth Madushanka Karunaratne (born 21 April 1988; Sinhala: දිමුත් කරුණාරත්න), popularly known as Dimuth Karunaratne, is a professional Sri Lankan cricketer and current captain of the Sri Lanka Test and One-Day International (ODI) cricket teams. He is a left-handed red ball specialist who represents the country in both Tests and ODIs, and plays first-class cricket for the Sinhalese Sports Club. Karunaratne is the opening batsman for Sri Lanka in Test cricket.
Since 2015, Karunaratne has become the leading batsman for Sri Lanka in Tests due to his century making in the second innings of Test matches. He was described as second-innings specialist by many commentators. He scored four centuries in the second innings out of the six centuries he made until October 2017. On 7 October 2017, Karunaratne became the second Sri Lankan opener after Tillakaratne Dilshan to score three Test centuries in a calendar year. In February 2019, he was named as the captain of Sri Lanka's Test squad for their series against South Africa.
In April 2019, Sri Lanka Cricket named Dimuth Karunaratne as the team's new One Day International captain ahead of the 2019 Cricket World Cup, replacing Lasith Malinga.. He is the only batsman after Ridley Jacobs to carry his bat in a Cricket World Cup.
Karunaratne attended the prestigious St. Joseph's College, Colombo, which has produced a number of Sri Lankan test cricketers such as Chaminda Vaas, Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera. He was a record-breaking batsman for the school's cricket team. After featuring in Sri Lanka's Under-19 and A squads, he was called into the senior One Day International (ODI) team for the series against England and Scotland in June and July 2011. He played in two matches on the tour, scoring four runs against England in Manchester, and 60 against Scotland in Edinburgh. He was selected in Sri Lanka's Test squad for its tour of South Africa at the end of 2011, although did not play in any of the three Tests.
In March 2018, he was named as the captain of Dambulla's squad for the 2017–18 Super Four Provincial Tournament. The following month, he was also named in Dambulla's squad for the 2018 Super Provincial One Day Tournament.
In February 2019, he signed for Hampshire County Cricket Club as their overseas player for the first half of the 2019 season.
He was recalled into the Test squad for the home Tests against New Zealand during late 2012. He got the opportunity due to Tillakaratne Dilshan being unable to make the XI because of an injury. He debuted in the first Test in that series, in Galle, only to get out for a duck in the first innings. However, he came back strongly in the 2nd innings with an unbeaten half century and hit the winning runs as well. Following the New Zealand series he was called into the test squad which was to tour Australia for a three test match series. During the first two tests in that series he failed to have an impact as he struggled against the Australian pace attack. In the final test of the series in Sydney he managed to get his highest test score of 85 in the second innings.
His maiden century came against New Zealand on 28 December 2014 at Hagley Oval, Christchurch. He scored 152 runs from 363 balls in the second match of the series, where Sri Lanka in deep trouble of even draw the match. Eventually, Sri Lanka lost the match.
He was picked to the original squad of 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, but during a practice match, he broke a bone in his right hand and was removed from the team after the match against England. Kusal Perera replaced Dimuth.
His second Test hundred came against Pakistan in Kandy; he scored 133 runs in first innings of the third match of the series. As his first Test century became waste, nothing different in this time. Sri Lanka lost the match by 7 wickets.
His highest score in Test cricket was recorded during the first Test against West Indies in 2015 at Galle. He scored magnificent 186 runs and unfortunately got out in bowling of Marlon Samuels. He with Dinesh Chandimal, who also scored a century, recorded the highest partnership for the third wickelt at Galle, by scoring 238 runs. Sri Lanka easily defeated West Indies by an innings and 5 runs.
Karunaratne showed very poor performance at home against Australia. He was trapped lbw and caught five times to Mitchell Starc in the first over of the each innings. He only scored 41 runs in three matches, including five single-digit scores, at average of 6.83 in six innings against Australia. Despite his poor performance, Sri Lanka whitewashed Australia 3–0 for the first time.
Karunaratne was named captain of the A team for the first two four-day games at home against West Indies A. He scored 131 in first innings and 39* in second innings, guides Sri Lanka A to seven-wicket win. This strong comeback gave him to name for the Test team for Zimbabwe tour in late October 2016.
Permanent opener in Tests
During the first innings of the first Test against Zimbabwe, Karunaratne scored a fifty and in second innings scored his fourth Test century. Sri Lanka finally won the match by 225 runs. In the second Test, he scored 88 runs in the second innings, guided Sri Lanka to post impossible chasing to Zimbabwe. With impressive bowling by skipper Rangana Herath, Sri Lanka won the match by 257 runs, and whitewashed the series 2–0. Karunaratne won player of the series for his batting performance, scored 280 runs at an average of 70.00.
He took his maiden Test wicket by dismissing Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara during the second test at SSC. In the second innings of the same match, he scored his fifth test century on 6 August 2017 against India and had a century partnership with Kusal Mendis. However, his century did not change the results for Sri Lanka, where they lost the match by an innings and 53 runs. This was the first time that India won a test match by an innings against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka lost all three matches against India in that series.
Sri Lanka played their first day-night Test on 6 October 2017 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium against Pakistan. In the match, Karunatane scored mighty innings of 196 and Sri Lanka scored 400+ in their first innings. With that, Karunaratne became the first Sri Lankan to score 50, 100 and 150 in a day-night Test as well. He fell just short 4 runs away by the double century, when Karunaratne poked at a short delivery that came back slightly off the seam and the ball took his inside edge, hit his thigh pad, and clattered into his stumps. However, in the second innings, Sri Lanka were all out for just 96 runs. With the help of bowling department, Sri Lanka won the match by 68 runs after a thrilling finish in the fifth day. For his batting performances throughout the Test series, Karunaratne was adjudged both Man of the match of second match and Player of series awards.
During the first innings of second Test against India, Karunaratne completed 1000 Test run in a year 2017 with the average of 42.41. He was the second batsman to get to 1000 Test runs in 2017, after South African opener Dean Elgar. He was the seventh Sri Lankan to score 1000 Test runs in a calendar year as well.
On 12 July 2018 during first test against South Africa, Karunaratne played his 50th test match. He celebrated the match with a magnificent century. He scored unbeaten 158 runs, and became the fourth batsman for Sri Lanka to carry his bat in Tests after Sidath Wettimuny, Marvan Atapattu and Russell Arnold. He also became the third Sri Lankan after Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan to have made a hundred in their 50th Test. Sri Lanka won the match within three day, where South Africa was dismissed to their lowest team total since readmission. Karunaratne scored 60 runs in the second innings, which is also the highest score in the innings for Sri Lanka.
During the match, Karunaratne scored 218 runs, while South Africa made a combined total of 199 in the both innings. He was the only man to score more than 50 runs in the match, where all other 21 players did not scored more than 40s. Due to his high class match winning performances, he won the man of the match award. He continued the best form in the second test as well, where he scored fifties in the both innings for Sri Lanka with 53 and 85 respectively. Eventually, Sri Lanka won the second test by 199 runs and sealed the series 2-0. Due to his impressive batting performance throughout the series, he won the man of the match award and player of the series award. For his performances in 2018, he was named in the World Test XI by the ICC and ESPNCricinfo.
Blow to head 2019
During the second Test at Canberra, suffered a blow to the back of the neck when he failed to get out of the way of a 142 km/h Pat Cummins bouncer. He laid almost motionless as medical staff inspected and eventually stretchered him off the field, for medical attention. Both Sri Lankan physio and Australian physio came to the field for the support. He was rushed to the hospital for further tests. Following medical assessments, he was released from the hospital in late evening of Saturday and cleared to bat again. Next day, after Kusal Perera got injured by another bouncer from Jhye Richardson, Karunaratne came to the field to play his innings. He reached his 22nd test fifty and got out for 59 runs. In the second innings, he only scored 8 runs and Sri Lanka lost the match and the series 2-0.
Due to poor performances throughout New Zealand and Australia tours, Chandimal was dropped from the Test squad for South Africa tour. Karunaratne was named as the stand-in captain for the tour, while Chandimal was released to play domestic cricket and regain his form with the bat. On 13 February 2019, Karunaratne became the 17th Test captain for Sri Lanka. Under his captaincy, Sri Lanka won the match by 1 wicket courtesy of Kusal Perera's unbeaten century. In the match, during South Africa's first innings, an apparent DRS timing error cost Sri Lanka a wicket of Hashim Amla. Vishwa Fernando rapped Amla on the pads for a confident appeal for lbw. Umpire Aleem Dar was unmoved, and after a short discussion Sri Lanka captain Karunaratne asked for a review - but Dar turned down the request on the basis that the visitors had taken too long to ask for it. However commentators confirmed that it took only 13 seconds when Karunaratne asked for the review.
Sri Lanka won the second match at Port Elizabeth comfortably to seal the series 2-0. This was Sri Lanka's fourth consecutive win over South Africa as well. With this win, Sri Lanka became the first Asian team to win a Test series in South Africa and third overall after England and Australia.
In March 2019, Karunaratne was arrested over a drink-drive incident in Colombo, which injured another motorist, and was later released on bail. He was fined, with Sri Lanka Cricket taking no further action on the incident. The following month, he was named as the captain of Sri Lanka's squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
His maiden tour as ODI captain came through Scotland tour in 2019 prior to the World Cup. First ODI was washed out due to rain. However, in the second ODI, he scored his maiden ODI fifty by scoring 77 runs. Sri Lanka posted 321 in 50 overs and finally Scotland bowled out for 199. Sri Lanka won the match by 35 runs in DLS method.
On 1 June 2019, in Sri Lanka's first match of the Cricket World Cup, Karunaratne became the second cricketer to carry his bat in a World Cup match. Sri Lanka finished the tournament as sixth in the table with 3 wins, 4 losses and 2 abandoned matches.
In the first Test match against New Zealand in August 2019, Karunaratne scored a match winning century in the fourth innings to chase down a target of 267. This is the first time a team has successfully chased down a fourth-innings target of more than 100 in Galle Stadium as well. New Zealand posted 267 runs in their second innings to win the match, where Karunaratne along with Lahiru Thirimanne gave a strong opening partnership of 161 runs. This stand ranks as only the second instance where fourth innings of a Test match in Asia scored more than 150 run opening partnership. He is the third Sri Lankan opener to score a century in fourth innings after Kusal Mendis and Sanath Jayasuriya. Karunaratne won the man of the match award for his match winning performances. However, New Zealand won the second test at P. Sara oval to level the series 1-1.
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