“We were underdogs then too, and we had nothing to lose, so we produced our best… The pressure is on India to not let a match slip”
Either way, this side knows what it’s about, Karunaratne said. And over the past year, they’ve appeared to be building towards something.
“I actually see a lot more confidence in the players than in previous tours of India,” he said. “We’ve performed really well in Tests over the past year. We’ve got seniors and juniors who have done well, and our combination is really good.
“I think we can do something in this series, just as we did in South Africa in 2019. We were underdogs then too, and we had nothing to lose, so we produced our best. We’ve never won in India before, so the pressure is on India to not let a match slip. Our job is to use that pressure to our advantage.
“India’s team is great and they’ve got a young side also. It’s a different India team than we’re used to playing. I think we can be much more competitive here than we were last time.”
“I know how much of a loss Lakmal will be for me when he goes… But personally I’m really happy for the opportunity that he has to play county cricket. That’s not something that’s easily got.”
Dimuth Karunaratne on Suranga Lakmal retiring from internationals to play for Derbyshire
“The first innings is huge in a Test match,” Karunaratne said. “We have to hit 300 or 350 every first innings, because the pitches wear so much here, and the bowlers have a big advantage. When it’s good the batters have to take that responsibility and do right by the bowlers. I have a lot of confidence about our team. It’s a team with a bit of experience now, and I think we will avoid the kinds of mistakes we’ve made in the past.”
“I know how much of a loss Lakmal will be for me when he goes,” Karunaratne said. “We do have Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara and Vishwa Fernando to fill those shoes. But personally I’m really happy for the opportunity that he has to play county cricket. That’s not something that’s easily got.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf