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Sa'adi Thawfeeq in Colombo
June 26, 2007
They were both making their maiden Test hundreds, the only difference was that one of them was playing in his 97th Test match and the other in just his 10th.
Chaminda Vaas and Prasanna Jayawardene figured in a 223-run partnership which was a seventh wicket record for Sri Lanka against all countries as the hosts took a stranglehold on the first Test against Bangladesh at the SSC grounds.
Vaas, who has made 11 Test fifties, was understandably ecstatic over his achievement. "I have been waiting for this moment to get a Test hundred. In the past couple of years I have been batting really well but I didn't get an opportunity to go on because at my position No.8 you can hardly get a batsman from the other end to stay with you," he said.
"Today Prasanna gave me that support. I thought that this was a good opportunity to go on and make a hundred. I did it and I am very happy the way I batted today," he added.
"When I returned from England I wanted to bat well and get some wickets. That was my goal. I have concentrated a lot on my batting in the nets. Batting at No.8 is important to the side and getting runs. I thought if I put my head down and bat I could get the runs. When you get older you can't take wickets all the time so if you can get runs as well you can do something for the team. I thought on those lines and I am very happy the way things are moving," he said.
Vaas revealed how when he began his Test career he would throw his wicket away and concentrate only on his bowling. "But playing for about 2-3 years, I realised that runs are also important to the side. Whenever I get the chance I thought of going and scoring a hundred. Today I managed to do it.
"Cricket is a mind game. I had several fifties which I couldn't convert into hundreds at times because I ran out of partners. Getting a hundred is the most important thing for a Test cricketer."
For wicketkeeper Jayawardene getting a Test hundred was striking gold. In the past he has been accused of not scoring enough runs as a wicketkeeper and his place was always in doubt with Kumar Sangakkara being preferred for the role.
But with the selectors wanting Sangakkara to concentrate more on his batting Jayawardene was given the opportunity once again and seized it with both hands to more or less cement his place in the Test team for quite a while. "When you get picked for just one Test a year it is always difficult for any player. You always come back under pressure to perform. It's not so easy. Now I have got the confidence because I am assured of playing a series of matches," he said.
"This hundred is very important to me. In my last six Test innings against New Zealand and South Africa I have got out scoring 30s and 40s. I didn't get an opportunity to go and make a big score. As I had scored runs in both domestic and A teams, I knew I could also do it in Test cricket. Today I got the opportunity and I took full advantage of it," he added.
"When I came to bat my thoughts were to get a hundred. I knew when I started to middle the ball that I could go for a big innings. There wasn't so much pressure so I gradually built my innings. They had pushed the field back and it was easy to get the runs. We spoke to each other and without taking any undue risks we got the runs," he said.
To get to where he is Jayawardene worked over time on his batting. "I practiced on my own with the bowling machine to iron out whatever faults I had. My batting faults and my mental make up were the areas I concentrated on hard. Nishantha, a coach attached to the Fingara indoor nets has been very helpful to me. Tom Moody and others also had a hand in improving my batting. They knew I had the capability as a batsman, what they gave me was confidence and they corrected my mistakes," he said.
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