‘Stronger’ Dinesh Chandimal says family, friends got him through tough times

Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Chandimal plays a shot during the first day of play of the first cricket Test match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at the Galle International Cricket Stadium in Galle on July 16, 2022. — AFP

GALLE: Former Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal on Saturday credited support from friends and family in helping him get back among the runs after being in and out of the national side.

Chandimal, 32, hit an attacking 76 in Sri Lanka’s 222 all-out on day one of the opening Test against Pakistan in Galle to lead his team’s fightback.

His knock comes after an unbeaten 206 — his maiden Test double century — set up a series-levelling win over Australia earlier this week.

“You have got to be mentally strong if you are playing Test cricket,” said Chandimal, who averages more than 42 in 68 Tests, after an absorbing day’s play.

“I have been out of the side at times. That makes me stronger. You have to score runs to remain in the side. So I thought about the technique and how to keep myself not distracted and grab the opportunity when it came.”

Chandimal has had a rough time after being sacked as Sri Lanka skipper in 2019 following his team’s thrashing in Australia.

The senior batsman has since failed to secure a regular place in the side in all formats, but his recent return to form has allowed him to reflect on his struggles.

“You need help during those tough times. I get a lot of support from my family, my wife, coaches, teammates and my friends. I am glad I got that,” he said.

“When you are down you need support like that. If people are criticising it’s difficult. We don’t want to fail and we need support. Happy that I contributed.”

Chandimal put on 44 runs for the ninth wicket with Maheesh Theekshana, who made 38 and added 89 runs for the last two wickets after Sri Lanka had been tottering at 133-8.

“Not happy with what we did. If we had got to 300 we could have been happy,” said Chandimal.

“But we can catch up if we bowl right tomorrow and we have an opening to bounce back.”

Pakistan will resume on Sunday at 24 for two after their pace bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi stood out by taking four Sri Lankan wickets on a track expected to favour the spinners.

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