Karunaratne, Silva: the most unsuccessful opening partnership in Test cricket over the past 20 years

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Sri Lanka’s opening partnership has been one of the most talked about topics during the ongoing Test series. Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva have struggled right throughout the series and have failed to register double figures even once in four partnerships of 6,0,5,2.

They struggled during the first two matches in England with partnerships of 10,10,10,38 before showing some form at Lords with scores of 108 and 45. Their troubles however began way before the England tour. Following are their partnerships starting with the series against Pakistan at home in June 2015:
Against Pakistan: 30,18,47, 15,12
Against India: 15,0,1,8
Against West Indies: 56, 1, 0 

In their first 17 innings together, they passed 30 on 13 occasions. However, in their last 22 partnerships, they have passed 50 just twice. They have failed to pass 15 on 15 occasions.

When compared to all opening partnerships in Test cricket over the past 20 years, Karunaratne and Silva have the worst average of all pairs that have scored over 1000 runs. As individual players, Karunaratne averages 32 after 30 test matches with 3 hundreds. Silva averages 29 after 29 tests with 2 hundreds. 

Given their promising start as an opening pair and the occasional individual highlights, selectors cannot be blamed for giving them an extended run. However, with the emergence of many promising young batsman, the time has come to look beyond this pair.

Roshen Silva, possibly the most consistent domestic and A-team batsman in the last 6 - 8 years, is one who can no longer be ignored. Milinda Siriwardena, after such a promising start to his Test career, is another player who deserved better than to be simply dropped from the Test team based on a few failures in T20 cricket. Charith Asalanka is another young player whom the selectors may not be able to keep out for much longer. While these players are not openers, Sri Lanka has the option of promoting Kusal Perera to open. Dhananjaya De Silva too has been a regular opening batsman for his club Tamil Union and is a contender.  Jayasudara, Dickwella and Gunathilake are others who have an opportunity to stake a claim.

Every cricketer who makes it to the highest level through years of hard work, commitment and sacrifice, deserve an extended run to prove themselves. Selectors have done fair by Karunaratne and Silva and given them all the opportunities to succeed. Unless they come up with a spectacular performance in the last inning of the on-going Test, they will be facing an extended break from Test cricket.


Stormy's picture
Member since:
15 January 2011
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9 hours 37 min

Think I need to agree with the write despite Kaushals man of the series performance in tough English conditions. I agreed playing them the whole series and I guess they will have more chance but this is now a problem I am afraid and we cannot keep playing them...like we did with Thiri!

AR's picture

Agreed 100% with article


1) Charith, Roshen must be drafted to playing XI a.s.a.p

2) Bowling... Lahiru Kuamra & Asitha Fernando for squads

3) We must develop some quality seam friendly pitches to fight with any team at any given venue

4) Test Openers must be replaced with Dhananjaya, Hashan Dumindu, Lahiru Milantha, Tharanga or Udara Jayasundara

delan82's picture
Member since:
18 October 2009
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2 hours 45 min

They both have had an extended run. Prior to NZ, Dimuth looked like he was on the improve and dropped away. He needs to go regain form.

Kaushal was dropped and earnt his recall. But his problem was converting starts into something meaningful. In this series getting a start has even been a challenge.

ALl batsmen (players) need to be treated equally. Given a reasonable time to overcome failures and bad form as it can happen to anyone. But if it continues too long they need to make way for someone else whilst they go regain their form and work on any issues. That time has pretty much come now.

Sanjeev Bernard Fernando's picture
Member since:
25 January 2013
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TAKE A BOW KAUSHAL SILVA!! Under so much pressure, 6 stiches, 5 failures in a row, international career on the line... Couldn't be happier for such a hard working player. Unfortunately, he has been part of one of the worst performing opening partnerships in Test cricket. In this blog, I said "Selectors have done fair by Karunaratne and Silva and given them all the opportunities to succeed. Unless they come up with a spectacular performance in the last inning of the on-going Test, they will be facing an extended break from Test cricket." ...... Could this 100 save Silva? Simply for courage and perseverance alone, I hope it will!

Jeewantha's picture
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7 March 2016
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1 hour 43 min

This 100 surely will save Silva,Would saving Silva save SL cricket?

Sanjeev Bernard Fernando's picture
Member since:
25 January 2013
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8 weeks 2 days

Jeewantha - I hear you :) ... This is one of those situations where you are disappointed and happy at the same time :) Happy for Silva that he got a 100 and saved his place. Disappointed because, going by statistics and past performances, he has proven to be inconsistent and had never seem to be the long-term solution to the opening batting debacles we are having. Is he now going to go through another series and a half with very low scores and get a 100 right around the time he'd be at risk again? Or would this spark a turnaround for him? For SL and his sake, let's hope its the latter.

UppercuT's picture
Member since:
19 October 2011
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2 years 4 weeks

what I like abt this #SLvAUS is Sri Lanka's "KEY BOARD CRICKET EXPERTS" are getting absolutely OWNED left, right & centre.. First Mathews, now Silva

Dimuth-Silva is more successful overseas than any other pair of openers from sub continent..

(Last edited by UppercuT on August 18, 2016 - 04:03)
Anonymous's picture

Dhanushka should have been given the chance to open instead, butr i guess Mathews is reluctant to remove Dimuth. That is the main reason why they pulled Upul's test career under him, after making 90 odd and another near fifty in the series decider v pk. we know what happened in NZ and how Dimuth was installed in WC odis, based on a single test inning, despite total failure. i think Dhanjaya should be given Dimuth's spot in SA series.

Sanjeev Bernard Fernando's picture
Member since:
25 January 2013
Last activity:
8 weeks 2 days

Uppercut - I respect your opinion. Hope you will allow me to explain my point of view. This blog was written based on statistics and is not a reflection of a "keyboard opinion". Statistically, Dimuth and Silva have the worst average of all opening partners who have scored 1000 runs together, since 1996. That is a fact and that is all the blog highlighted.

You have highlighted that they have the best average overseas, among "subcontinent" openners. That is correct. After this series, they average ~42 in AWAY matches. Statistically, that ranks very low among ALL OPENNING PAIRS. The fact that they rank higher when compared to subcontinent openers is an indication of the fact that subcontinent openners do struggle a lot overseas. That is why Dimuth/Silva are slightly ahead of them, but significantly lower, overall.

The fact that they are one of the weakest opening pair is still statistically true. All I pointed out what that simple FACT.

Both of these players average ~31. With Dhananjaya and Mendis having proved that we have plenty of young talent that can step up, with so many other promising players like Roshen, Milinda and a few under 19 guys also waiting in the wings, to question the persistence with two players with a mediocre average, I think deserves more than a "keyboard opinion" label.

Yes, these two might be retained for the SA tour and may turn a corner and prove this opinion wrong. And that would be a most welcome turnaround for two hard working cricketers. But as of today, the opinion that they have underperformed or been very inconsistent, is a FACT and not a keyboard opinion.


(Last edited by Sanjeev Bernard Fernando on August 18, 2016 - 22:31)
Anonymous's picture

They should have listened to facts here.

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