Sri Lanka needs to be in the top four: Captain Karunaratne

Mickey Arthur was appointed as Sri Lanka's head coach on a two-year contract in December and skipper Karunaratne heaped praise on the South African.

Sri Lanka cricket captain Dimuth Karunaratne during a practice session.   -  AFP

Sri Lanka cricket captain Dimuth Karunaratne lauded the impact of new coach Mickey Arthur on Sunday and said his side must target a top-four spot in the world rankings for both the Tests and 50-over formats.

South African Mickey Arthur was appointed as Sri Lanka's head coach on a two-year contract in December.

Former first class cricketer Arthur has previously been head coach with the national teams of South Africa, Australia and Pakistan.

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“Mickey is a no nonsense cool bloke with loads of experience to back him and his brand,” Karunaratne told Sri Lanka Cricket.

“At the international level, planning and role clarity is a norm. What is very important is the belief he has instilled among us in his own and subtle way. It sure helped and the results always speak for itself.”

Since Arthur's appointment, Sri Lanka lost a two-test series in Pakistan before defeating Zimbabwe at home. The Islanders are currently ranked fifth in the format.

The team languish at eighth in one-day internationals but managed to defeat a dangerous West Indies side 3-0 in its last series before the COVID-19 shutdown.

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“Rankings is the key word. I'd say Sri Lanka needs to be in the top four of not just ODI cricket, but test cricket as well,” Karunaratne, 32, said.

“That would indirectly mean semi-finalists to say the least and you are perhaps two games away from the plum. There onwards, it's anybody's guess and if you do well on your day you could end up being World Champs.”

Test captain Karunaratne was himself handed an olive branch to resurrect his limited-overs career and lead the side in ODI cricket when he was brought back last year ahead of the 50-over World Cup in England for the first time since 2015.

The top-order batsman found success with the willow but was unable to lead his side into the last four of the competition.

Karunaratne is, however, positive about the future.

“The boys and the respective squads are enjoying their cricket and that makes my job that much easier,” he said.

“If you like what you are doing and the environment to do so is conducive, the balance at this level of sport becomes that much more beneficial.”

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