Sri Lanka Vs Zimbabwe: I Am Thrilled With This Effort, Says Asela Gunaratne After Record Chase
When Asela Gunaratne came out to bat on the final day of the one-off Test against Zimbabwe, the visitors were all over Sri Lanka. The hosts were reeling at 203 for 5 in pursuit of a daunting 388 and with Zimbabwe boasting of four spinners, the task of saving the match or winning it on a deteriorating fifth-day pitch was looking a distant dream.
However, the right-handed batsman against his slightly more experienced partner Niroshan Dickwella scored stunning half-centuries to take Sri Lanka home against all the odds. The duo added 121 runs before Dickwella was dismissed for 81 but Gunaratne stayed till the very end, scoring an unbeaten 80 to ensure the home team chase down the highest-ever total in Asia without many hiccups.
Delighted with the match-winning knock, Gunaratne said he was thrilled with his effort.
“It’s a huge total that we had to chase although it was a good wicket to bat. There were lot of messages from the dressing room telling us not to panic. There was quite a bit of planning and I am thrilled with this effort. Great win for us,” noted Gunaratne.
Sri Lanka had their back against their wall after the end of the fourth day when they were 170 for 3 but Gunaratne said his team never thought about saving the match and instead was looking to chase down the improbable total.
“We never spoke about losing the game. We have a lot of bitter memories of losing. Even when we were having dinner last night, the talk was about how the run chase should go and we are very happy right now,” Gunaratne said.
Gunaratne, who was playing his fifth Test, also revealed what his experienced partner Dickwella, who was playing his seventh Test, told him when he went out to bat.
“The moment I went out to bat, Dickwella said ‘Talk to me all the time, and make me score runs, I think what he meant was that he hadn’t scored a big one in Tests, whereas I have. He just wanted me to tell him how to handle situations. Sometimes when the game was going a certain way, he wanted me to keep advising him. Occasionally I’d tell him not to go for certain shots. In the end, he stuck around and played a crucial role,” Gunaratne said.
The 31-year old missed Zimbabwe’s second innings with a hamstring injury but said it was not a big one.
“It’s not a big injury. I felt that my hamstring was tight. The physiotherapist also said it hasn’t been torn. But I was ready to bat. I had it plastered and didn’t bowl any overs or field. My one goal was to rest and somehow take the team to victory,” he concluded.
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