Dimuth Karunaratne gets runs on the off side (All pix by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi)

Sa’adi Thawfeeq reporting from Galle

GALLE: Dimuth Karunaratne said the hours he spent improving his batting with interim coach Jerome Jayaratne paid off today when he carved out an unbeaten 135 not out on the first day of the first Test against West Indies at the Galle International Stadium.

“I was not doing well in the last series and I did lot of homework. This century is a clear result of it,” said Karunaratne at the end of the day.

“The new coach showed me a few things to change and I made those changes. Not only me. Most of us did few changes. We did tremendous work load during the last three weeks, simply because the next few series that are lined up are not easy. Most of those series are to be played overseas. So this is a series to make amendments,” he said.

“There was no target as such but I wanted to bat throughout the day. So I had a sort of an idea of which balls I should play and which kind of ones I should leave alone and survive. I respected the good balls and scored off the others.

“I’ve played few ‘A’ team games with these guys like Shannon (Gabriel) and Kemar Roach so I knew these guys and had a sort of an idea of them. I knew I needed to play my normal game.”

Defending the slow rate of scoring in the first two sessions where Sri Lanka made only 141 runs Karunaratne said, “In the first session they bowled well. We wanted to hang around in the middle and put pressure on them. In the series against India, we lost the first three wickets very quickly. We didn’t want to make the same mistake here. Therefore we wanted to occupy the wicket as long as possible and let them field under the hot sun. We planned to play cautiously in the first two sessions and to catch up in the third session.

Of the four-man pace attack the West Indies unleashed at them Karunaratne said Shannon Gabriel was the most difficult to play.

“He bowled in good areas. They set a particular field and tried to cut down runs. But we didn’t panic for the fact that there were less runs during those periods. We knew that we can catch up if we kept them under the hot sun. So we kept going and we did well. Tomorrow, we need to have a different kind of a plan to push for a few more runs.”

It is seldom that Karunaratne hits a six and when he did that against Devendra Bishoo he was not aware that he had reached his century until partner Dinesh Chandimal alerted him.

“I never expected to hit a six at that time. I just wanted to rotate the strike. However, I saw there was no fielder in that area and I wanted to go for a boundary. I just wanted to hit it over mid wicket and it went for a six,” said Karunaratne.

“I didn’t even know I have reached the century mark until Chandi told me. Then only I started to celebrate.’