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March 1, 2009
After Thilan Samaraweera made an assured hundred in Lahore to follow up his double-century in the first Test, his team-mate Kumar Sangakkara hailed him as the player "batting best" in the Sri Lankan side. The pair had combined to put on 204 runs which bailed the visitors out of trouble after they had slid to 96 for 3.
"With three wickets down it was just a case of batting and batting long [and I] had a good partnership with Samaraweera," he said. "I think he is batting the best of all our batsmen."
With four hundreds and five half-centuries in his last nine Tests, Samaraweera has established himself as a key member of Sri Lanka's middle-order in the longer format. Though he is yet to seal a spot in the limited-over sides, Sangakkara expects him to accomplish that if he maintains his Test form.
"I think he has been batting brilliantly over the past year and a half and the way he is going he is always pushing for a place in both forms of the game," Sangakkara said. "I don't think anyone is going to be labelled anymore a Test specialist or a one-day specialist, if they are scoring runs and they are in form, they are the batsmen who should be playing both forms of the game."
Sangakkara also made a century at what must be one of his favourite venues - Lahore, where he has made hundreds in both his previous Tests. "I was disappointed after the Karachi Test, [in] both innings I should have gone on," he said. "Today it was a different scenario where we were a few wickets down, [and the track was] not as placid as Karachi's, but still it was a case of just batting on and making sure that responsibilities were shouldered."
There were few gremlins in the first day pitch in Lahore, and Sangakkara was surprised Sri Lanka were put in after Younis Khan won the toss. "It seemed to be a good batting wicket," he said. "I think we would have batted [if we won the toss]. But we were playing with only two fast bowlers so it was always better to get runs on board and put pressure on the opposition so we are quite happy either way."
With the experienced Chaminda Vaas left out of the side, there will be even more responsibility on the spinning pair of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis, who struggled to make an impact in Karachi, taking only two wickets in their 124 overs. Sangakkara said the slow bowlers would be much more effective in this match if the bounce and pace stayed in the surface as then "even if it turns a bit it causes problems for the batsmen".
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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