"I've played a lot with Dimuth and what he does is give the player the freedom to go and express themselves 100% in the match" - Dickwella AFP

Sri Lanka have fared well under their new Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne. Appointed ahead of their tour of South Africa, Sri Lanka have gone on to win three out of three Tests under Karunaratne since. And Niroshan Dickwella traces the short-term success back to just how well Karunaratne manages his players, allowing them to "express themselves 100%".

"Dimuth is a very different kind of captain," Dickwella said ahead of the Colombo Test. "His way of managing players is different, and every captain has their own style. I've played a lot with Dimuth and what he does is give the player the freedom to go and express themselves 100% in the match."

Karunaratne's captaincy has provided Sri Lanka with a sense of calm after the turbulence at the top had started to trickle down into the team's performances on the field. Ever since Angelo Mathews stepped down from captaincy in 2017, Sri Lanka could never really find their feet under one captain. There was Rangana Herath for a while, then Dinesh Chandimal, then Suranga Lakmal and then finally Karunaratne.

"What Dimuth says is go and do what you want to do, and what you feel you can do," Dickwella continues. "If we make a mistake, he'll pull us aside and say this happened, why don't we fix that mistake for next time? He talks a lot about being confident about your abilities. And he gives you that confidence."

After a one-nil lead in the series, Sri Lanka now have a chance at winning the full 120 World Test Championship points, but for that they will have to win at the P Sara Oval, the seam-friendly venue where Sri Lanka don't have the greatest record.

"It's a big challenge. Having won one game, we have a big responsibility to win the series. We have the confidence, but we need to keep making good decisions at crunch moments."

Some of the crunch moments Dickwella mentions are dropped catches, which in the end didn't hurt Sri Lanka, much thanks to Karunaratne's fourth-innings hundred, but it could in Colombo, where the conditions in favour of fast bowlers brings New Zealand so much more into the contest.

"Close-in fielders, including me, have missed some chances in Galle, but those were difficult chances - you don't have even seconds to react. But still, we spoke about that. We're happy to improve on those areas.

"In the batting, we were 142 for 2 and then collapsed to 168 for 7 in the first-innings, so we have to improve on that as well. When it comes to bowling, when one bowler is bowling well, from one end, we need to build a partnership from the other end as well," Dickwella concluded.