ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Sri Lanka v Canada, Group A, World Cup 2011, Hambantota

Revived Samaraweera ready to anchor Sri Lanka

Osman Samiuddin in Hambantota

February 18, 2011

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Thilan Samaraweera brings out the pull shot, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, tri-series, 2nd ODI, Dambulla, August 13, 2010
Thilan Samaraweera is the forgotten man in Sri Lanka's middle order © Cameraworx/Live Images
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Players/Officials: Thilan Samaraweera
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Teams: Canada | Sri Lanka

Thilan Samaraweera's re-emergence as a batsman in Sri Lanka's ODI side has been one of the more understated, indeed surprising, developments of the last couple of years. His set-up as a batsman for long innings is no longer in question. But since his return to the ODI side in 2009, after a four-year break, he's become a sturdy middle-order contrast to a top-order by turns explosive and elegant.

Since his return in July 2009, Samaraweera averages nearly 35 in 27 games at a spot where that often means more than it implies quantitatively; he has also made his only two ODI hundreds in this period. And his strike-rate isn't far from 80, still respectable in this age and by his own standards nearly remarkable.

It's not down to anything in particular, according to him, just a little confidence flowing over from his Test form and some from selectors. "Three or four years back I was not even in the Test team and I got back in late 2008 but since then I got runs," he said. "Especially after scoring a hundred against India two years ago I got a place in the team which also gave me confidence. I've had good communication with selectors and they said that you still have opportunity. Last year I scored two hundreds, so it's been good far."

A clarity over his role and responsibilities has helped, even if for the modern middle order one-day batsman an ability to map out a late Powerplay clouds issues more than before. "My role is to control the innings in the middle. Last year I did very well and also did well in the last warm-up match, though I didn't get much opportunity in the West Indies series. All the players know their roles individually, but most importantly it will be on the situation you are facing also.

"Because of the Powerplay one has to force the scoring rate to eight or nine an over and it's easy to hit in the sub-continent so you can score 45 and at times teams also 60. But that all depends on the wicket and how the game is going."

On Sunday, Samaraweera and Sri Lanka will come across two unknowns: Canada and the Mahinda Rajapakse International Stadium in Hambantota, on which no international has so far been played. Both ensure that Sri Lanka's much-awaited opener will be a "big game."

"We had a good long session because we were practising for the first time here and so far, so good. At Premadasa it was a bit up and down, but the groundsman put in a lot of hard work and domestic cricket was played there. They did good job for the last match and it was good. Basically we have to play the Canada match like a big game and if you relax they can upset any team so we have to approach it as a big game. We have stopped talking about that [a new venue]. We have prepared well in the warm-up matches because you have to deal with these kinds of things."

Samaraweera acknowledged the openness of this tournament, more so perhaps in Sri Lanka where surfaces might not regularly concede 300-plus totals in big games. "Lots of people talk about 300 runs as a par score but that could happen in India where the wickets are flat and the grounds are small. Here it will depend on the nature of the wickets. The surfaces we played in domestic matches at Premadasa were difficult and this ground is too big with 90 yard boundaries. 260 might be par in Sri Lanka.

"At the moment honestly, we're planning for the Canada game, because in this type of group you have to plan one game at a time. After the Canada match we have to plan for Pakistan. All three big teams are good, Australia have won the tournament four times and they can still do lot of things. Pakistan is I think really the dark horse and can change the game any time and have firepower. Even New Zealand are good."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 33 
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Posted by dayantha on (February 20, 2011, 5:35 GMT)

@ kumara_wj you don't have any idea about Asian pitches. if dilshan, sanga, mahela failed who will take the responsibility. we need a batman who can score as per the situation specially on chasing. 2 chamaras are not consistent . ODIs are not like playing one or two strokes and out. a typical ODI batmen should be capable of taking more responsibility and guide the team to a winning situation by scoring fast or slow according to the situation. samaraweera is the ideal player for that.

Posted by Ajith on (February 20, 2011, 5:30 GMT)

This series will be dominated by spinners; so batsmen like Samaraweera and Chamara Silva, who at ease with good spinners will have a role. It is not only hitting out of the park at difficult situations. These two are capable of handling spin.

This may be the reason for selecting them by famous Aravinda and the committee.

Good luck all the guys to live up to the expectations!

Posted by Nalin on (February 19, 2011, 18:14 GMT)

Samaraweera will be the dark hose possibly player of the world cup 2011, good on you mate

Posted by kumara on (February 19, 2011, 18:07 GMT)

selection of samaraweera unsettles SL team..specially he snot a natural quick scorer..as this WC play on flat batting friendly wkts need to have exceptional stroke makers to get min score of 350 to win against a team like Ind,Paks ..So SIlva or Kapu shud select ahead of thilan..remember SL performed well without him in last WC and last Aus tour..& his fielding is weak compare to silva or kapu..so i dont think is a wise decn of thilans inclusion building an inns sanga,mahela,tharanga all can do this flat wkts ..most imp thing is to score at high rate so need gifted natural strokers like Silva or kapu if SL to win agnst strong teams like Ind ,Aus ..forget these minnows any club level batsman wl score agnst..

Posted by Tuan on (February 19, 2011, 18:06 GMT)

why cant samaraweera bowl ??? he is a quality spin bowler & has taken wickets to convince anyone. selectors should look into his all round capabilities rather than focusing only on his batting. also when observed samaraweera, he just defends the ball in front of him; where as he can easily score a run while defending the ball to an open space. then automatically, his run rate will get higher as everyone expects.

Posted by Nisala on (February 19, 2011, 18:00 GMT)

@kunaljoshi30: First of all it's not "wait for it, wait for it, legen dary" it's " legen- wait for wait for it - dary" If you are gonna quote Barney Stinson, do it right. As for SL crashing out because we are carrying the 'oldie' Murali, let me remind you Murali is the greatest bowler to play the game and he still wins games for us that's why he is in the team. If a team is gonna crash out because there is a so called 'oldie' on the team, then I guess India will also crash out in the QF since they have SRT on the team. Yes, we've got fever and it's cricket fever which every real cricket fan would get during the World Cup. I'm glad that you realize everyone has a right to speech where as I've seen many Indian supporters being verbally abusive just because another expresses his/her opinion with which they do not agree with. Cheers!

Posted by Dave on (February 19, 2011, 15:14 GMT)

Samaraweera is the best player of spin in our Team

Posted by sri on (February 19, 2011, 14:27 GMT)

@Waterboy_sixs,@ Dimitri_SL and other SL fans I have (out of curiosity) read all the comments posted prior to yours and found none( from any indian ) that degrade SL or its chances in world cup. But after reading your comments i too am believing now that not all srilankans are sportive.

Posted by Kunal Kaveesh on (February 19, 2011, 12:51 GMT)

hey dimitri brother i guess all sri lankans feel jealous as who is no1 in tests and no 2 in odi's wait for it wait for it it is legen dary india bro so get over your srilanka and murali fever and come back on earth srilanka will qualify for quarters but 100 % gurantee they will crash out there as they are carrying oldies like murali whereas suraj no ball randiv should have played also very fragile middle order so brother you can say whatever you want about india we might now win but will go down all guns blazing cheers bro have a good one i am cool with your feedbac cuz we all have our right to speech so best of luck sri lanka

Posted by Shashika on (February 19, 2011, 12:15 GMT)

Samaraweera is a wonderful player of spin. He can bat in tough situations and he proved that many times. He adds more stability to the middle order. I would like to see him in all matches. Two Chamara's are so unpredictable.

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Osman SamiuddinClose
Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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