'Sri Lanka needs to be in the top four in Tests and ODIs' - Dimuth Karunaratne
Dimuth Karunaratne has stated his team's improvement in the ICC Team Rankings remains his top priority as the leader of Sri Lanka's Test and ODI outfits.
Sri Lanka are currently ranked No. 5 in Tests while their standing in the 50-over format is worrisome as they find themselves struggling at No. 8.
Karunaratne was at the helm of affairs when Sri Lanka failed to progress to the semi-finals in the ICC World Cup last year, ultimately finishing sixth in the points table. In contrast, his maiden series in charge of the Test side saw Sri Lanka claim a historic win in South Africa.
Karunaratne stressed on the importance of Sri Lanka securing a spot in the top four as a way of being at an advantage in competitions such as the inaugural World Test Championship.
"Rankings, Rankings and Rankings is the key word," he was quoted as saying by the ICC.
"I’d say Sri Lanka needs to be in the top four of not just ODI cricket, but Test cricket as well.
"That would indirectly mean semifinalists 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 champions."
Sri Lanka experienced a radical change in their coaching set-up recently as Mickey Arthur was installed as the team's head coach in November 2019.
The island nation lost a two-Test series in Pakistan - Arthur's previous place of employment - but managed to beat Zimbabwe at home since then.
Heaping praise on Arthur's caliber and experience, Karunaratne felt he was the right man to steer Sri Lanka cricket towards greater heights.
"Mickey is a no-nonsense cool bloke with loads of experience to back him and his brand. At the international level, planning and role clarity is the 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," he said.
Sri Lanka have often profited from Karunaratne's consistency in the longer version of the game, where his tally of runs over the last two years is second only to Tom Latham among openers.
Despite being a vital cog in his side's batting line-up, his performances give the impression that he is unable to live up to his true potential.
Karunaratne is thus focused on setting personal targets for himself to ensure he ends his Test career on a high.
"I have nine centuries from 66 test matches, while many will argue that I should or could have converted some of the 24 half-centuries I scored into centuries, thus increasing my overall tally of centuries. However, I am learning from each game."
"Test cricket is super supreme and it’s certainly not a walk in the park! The stretched goal is 25 centuries and a fifty-plus average."