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Sri Lanka's Karunaratne learns lesson in eventful test debut

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By Sudipto Ganguly

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Chamika Karunaratne made an eventful debut with a wicket in his first over in test cricket against Australia on Friday, but the all-rounder soon got a taste of what it takes to succeed at the top level.

The 22-year-old, who arrived in Canberra early on Thursday morning, got a call to join the squad for the second and final test against Australia as a replacement for paceman Lahiru Kumara, who had to return home due to injury ahead of the match at the Manuka Oval.

Karunaratne looked unlikely to win his first Sri Lanka cap but was drafted into the playing team after fast bowler Suranga Lakmal failed to recover from a stiff back.

He could not have hoped for a better start to his test career, however, when he dismissed Marnus Labuschagne caught behind for six with his fourth delivery.

That dismissal reduced Australia to 28-3 after the hosts had won the toss and opted to bat.

Yet Sri Lanka did not have much joy during the rest of the opening day as Joe Burns and Travis Head then smashed big hundreds and forged a mammoth fourth-wicket stand of 308 to help Australia reach 384-4 at the close.

Karunaratne was milked for 87 runs in his 14 overs with no further success in the day.

"The ball was moving around a little bit in the morning," Karunaratne told reporters. "After the first session it got flatter and slow. The areas we bowled were short and we need to rectify that. We bowled a boundary ball every over.

"I gave away too much runs and am not happy with it. It wasn't my best. I am hoping to do better tomorrow.

"Inexperience was an issue but we cannot give excuses. When you're representing your country you have to give a hundred percent. You can't say it's because of inexperience."

Karunaratne took a roundabout route to test-level cricket as the sport was not his first love.

The Colombo-born cricketer is the youngest of four siblings who has represented Sri Lanka in badminton.

"Three years ago I was a national number two," he said. "All my family has played badminton, I am the youngest in the family. Yeah, badminton is my first sport."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Toby Davis)

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