Cricket news - Hope Pradeep takes four-fer confidence into the WC: Karunaratne

"When Scotland were going quite well, I spoke to Nuwan Pradeep and asked him to try a couple of bouncers. He did that really well."

In what was their last game before heading into the World Cup warm-ups, Sri Lanka took a few positives from their victory over Scotland. The form of the top three in a regularly changing line-up was a big plus, but newly-appointed captain Dimuth Karunaratne was all praise for fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep, who finished the rain-truncated game with figures of 4 for 34.

In pursuit of Sri Lanka's 322, Scotland started brightly, until Pradeep took his skipper's words and caused a vital breakthrough - dismissing Kyle Coetzer in the 11th over with a sharp bouncer. That one dismissal brought two more as Calum MacLeod was undone by Pradeep's in-seamer while Craig Wallace fell to Isuru Udana, putting Scotland in a spot of bother.

"When Scotland were going quite well, I spoke to Nuwan Pradeep and asked him to try a couple of bouncers. He did that really well and we were able to squeeze them through that middle period," Karunaratne said on Tuesday (May 21).

There was an hour-and-a-half long rain-break that left Scotland to chase 103 more from seven overs as per DLS calculations. George Munsey was up for the task, but wickets tumbled at the other end. Munsey fought on even as the target began to appear out of reach. But that too was brought to an end by Pradeep. This time, he went to the opposite end of the spectrum and delivered two yorkers - that first took out Munsey for an excellent 42-ball 61 and then had Tom Sole dismissed for 5.

"It's not easy to bowl yorkers, especially with the ball getting wet because of the rain. If you don't execute it well it will go for a six. But Pradeep knows how he has to bowl, and he went for the straight yorker. I hope he takes that confidence into the World Cup," Karunaratne said.

Before Pradeep could be all over the hosts, Sri Lanka were set up in the game thanks to half-centuries from each of the top three batters. Karunaratne, in particular, was relieved to have hit form as the pressure on him has multiplied since he was handed the swiftly-moving captaincy baton recently.

"Playing an international one-dayer after such a long time is not easy. I was under pressure early on and was struggling a little bit. But once I got set and thought about how to play - which bowlers I should target - I felt better. Fortunately, I got a couple of chances. But thanks to the runs I got, I got some confidence," Karunaratne revealed.

He also lauded 21-year-old opener Avishka Fernando, who made his ODI debut as a teenager in 2016 but is only now looking to slowly establish himself. Karunaratne stated that the youngster has been spoken to about the expectation that the team has from him, and hopes the attacking batsman can breach the three-figure mark at the World Cup.

"Avishka was excellent as well. We know how capable he is. He can hit hard and rotate the strike as well. We talked to him about what we needed from him. Unfortunately he couldn't get a hundred, but I think he can get a big hundred in the World Cup," Karunaratne said.

Karunaratne also reserved some applause for Lahiru Thirimanne, who saw the team through to the end of the innings after they had struggled a slight wobble in the middle. Despite scores of 74, 76 and 66 from Fernando, Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis,

Scotland saw an opportunity to claw their way back when they dismissed the openers and quickly ran through the middle-order pair of Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews. Thirimanne walked out to bat at 210 for 4 in the 37th over and saw the team slip to 238 for 5 in the 42nd over. He however, batted well with the tail and finished unbeaten on a 40-ball 44, that ensured for Sri Lanka a winning total.