Sri Lanka v India, 1st Test, SSC, Colombo, 2nd day July 24, 2008

Samaraweera and Warnapura share the limelight


Thilan Samaraweera's fourth century at the SSC was perhaps overshadowed by Mahela Jayawardene's record-equalling ninth at the same venue © AFP
 

Sri Lanka's batting revolves around Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene but today the performances by names on either end of the middle-order duo in the scorecard would have been most promising. Malinda Warnapura, in his first year in international cricket, scored his second Test century while Thilan Samaraweera, who spent some time out of the team, showed he could match his captain's love for the SSC, scoring his fourth hundred at the ground.

Warnapura got a duck in his debut innings last year but, in six innings since, he has managed two hundreds and two fifties. "After I got out for a duck in my first Test I worked really hard at improving my game," he said. "To come to SSC and score a hundred is very satisfying. Getting a hundred at the SSC and against a side like India I rate it as the best for me."

Warnapura, the nephew of Sri Lanka's first Test captain Bandula Warnapura, was a middle-order bat for school and club but made the adjustment to become a Test opener like his uncle. "In the morning we knew we had to get a big partnership together. We discussed it all the time. Batting with Mahela [Jayawardene] made it easy for me to get to my hundred," Warnapura said. "He was talking to me all the time, especially when I was losing concentration. I am really happy that I had him on the other side. You don't get a better partner than Mahela. This is the second time I have been in partnership with him. The first was in the West Indies [when Warnapura scored his maiden hundred]. This was a bigger partnership. I enjoyed batting with him."

Inconsistent performances cost Samaraweera his place after the tour to England in 2006. He played one of two Tests in Australia in November 2007 but cemented his place again with a fifty and a hundred during the West Indies trip earlier this year. Samaraweera previously had a risk-free approach but he's worked on his game during his stint out of the team. "I've changed my game in the last 20 months or so after I worked with Chandika Hathurusingha, the A team coach," Samaraweera said. "I changed my attitude and now I try to look for opprtunities to score runs. It helped me in Trinidad, where I scored a hundred in 180 balls or so.

"I was out of the team for two years and I wanted to come back. I did a little bit of things technically and it's worked out for me."

Samaraweera followed up his 125 in Port of Spain with another ton, his seventh hundred, and fourth at the SSC. "I love to bat here and this is my sixth first-class hundred on this ground for the year," he said. "Days two and three are good for batting here. There is no pressure at all when batting at the SSC. Every time I go into a Test match on this ground I score a 50 or a 100. I think it is a lucky ground for me."