Previous failures motivated me - Samaraweera
Thilan Samaraweera has said his unsatisfactory scores in the previous series against Pakistan motivated him to get a big hundred at the start of the series against New Zealand. Samaraweera scored 159 on the second day, his tenth Test hundred and first in Galle.
"I got two 30s at Galle (against Pakistan) and I couldn't get runs at the P Sara Stadium," Samaraweera said. "These failures made me determined to score runs in the present series.
"Since the Lahore shootout, I couldn't get my batting going in the Pakistan series. I think I found my form in the last Test at the SSC where I scored 73. Today was a happy moment for me to get to a hundred."
Samaraweera, who has been in outstanding form over the past 18 months, said that his main job since his return to the Test team (after being dropped in 2006) was to ease the pressure off the two experienced batsmen, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.
"Both are under big pressure batting in the middle order. The last 18 months [Tillakaratne] Dilshan and I have done that really well."
Jayawardene, the other centurion, (114) said Dilshan's explosive start allowed himself and Samaraweera to bat with a lot more freedom.
"I thought Dilshan was batting on a different wicket than I was, the way he was hitting the ball. It took the pressure away from us completely," Jayawardene said. "New Zealand were focused on Dilshan at that particular time. It gave me time to settle in and just go and do what I wanted to do. He batted beautifully and put a lot of pressure on the New Zealand bowlers and got us through that shaky period when we lost two quick wickets. After that the wicket settled down very well and made my job and Thilan's easy."
Jayawardene however expressed disappointment for getting out to a rash shot early in the day. He tried cutting a short ball from Iain O'Brien but only managed a tame edge to first slip.
"We had a plan to bat at least till lunch. We thought with the new ball coming up we could push for a bit more runs but unfortunately it was a bad shot. I lost concentration and it was disappointing. The ideal situation for us would have been for me and Thilan to bat for another session-and-a-half and maybe push for a few more runs. We knew we lost a little bit of time because of the rain so getting 500-550 would have been ideal. But from where we are, we should be satisfied.
"Getting two top order batsmen is always a good thing and both the spinners started bowling well. Thilan [Thushara] bowled a great spell. If we can be disciplined again tomorrow and create opportunities we can put pressure on the New Zealand batsmen. There is a bit of spin now and (Muttiah) Muralitharan will start turning it if there is bite for him. Ajantha [Mendis] bowled really well. He is very hungry to get back into the side and perform."