Sri Lanka A in South Africa

Hathurusingha picks out three to watch

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

October 6, 2008

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Chandika Hathurusingha: "Two years ago there was an issue with Thilina Kandamby's fitness, but since joining Sinhalese Sports Club he has worked very hard on it" © AFP
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Sri Lanka A's recent tour to South Africa has unearthed three potential players for the future, according to coach Chandika Hathurusingha.

Hathurusingha, who played 26 Tests and 35 ODIs for Sri Lanka, has identified allrounder Angelo Mathews, fast bowler Suranga Lakmal and opener Tharanga Paranavitana as possibilities to represent the senior side.

"What is so unique about them is that they are intelligent, pick things up very quickly, and they are quite matured for their age," Hathurusingha said. "They seek information and absorb it very quickly. They should go a long way."

Sri Lanka A played four four-day games and five one-dayers in South Africa. Mathews, who plays for the Colts Cricket Club in domestic competitions, scored 173 runs in the Tests and 123 runs in the one-dayers, but only managed three wickets in the Tests. Lakmal, 21, bowled impressively although four wickets at 40.50 in two Tests and four at 50.75 in four one-dayers suggest otherwise, according to Hathurusingha. Paranavitana, 26, with a century and two half-centuries in the Tests, underlined his potential though he only managed 100 from four one-dayers.

Sri Lanka's batting clicked in the opening Test at Potchefstroom, where they scored 749 for 5 with four centurions - Paranavitana, Matthews, Thilina Kandamby and Kaushal Silva. In the second match South Africa prepared a green track and Sri Lanka lost six wickets in a session, which decided the fate of the match. The third match was a draw and South Africa won the series. Sri Lanka won the one-day series 4-1 and Hathurusingha termed the tour "very successful" due to the individual brilliance of certain players.

Upul Tharanga, woefully out of form since the tour of England in 2006, scored 250 runs in the one-dayers at an impressive strike-rate of 101. "We worked on a few technical problems and with his game plan on how he should start the innings and go about it and what role he can play where he is most comfortable with," Hathurusingha said. "That 173 [off 149 balls] he scored in the third one-dayer in East London was just fantastic. It was a flowing innings full of stroke-play. Upul has born talent and is naturally gifted. It was wonderful to see him back in the runs once again. He has not justified his talents. He has a little more work to do like working on his mental game plan."

The other player to benefit immensely from the tour was Kandamby, the captain, who scored two hundreds in the Test series and followed it up some sterling contributions in the one-day games. He topped the batting averages with 361 runs at 91.00. including a century and three half-centuries.

"Two years ago there was an issue with Kandamby's fitness, but since joining the Sinhalese Sports Club he has worked very hard on it," Hathurusingha said. "His fitness played a crucial role. It improved his cricket overall and enabled him to concentrate and spend more time in the middle.

"Coupled with it was his self-belief and maturity that saw him achieve most of the things on the tour and earn him a recall to the national team. If he maintains this form he should nail his place in the national side."

Kandamby, 26, earned a call-up to Sri Lanka's Twenty20 side for a four-nation tournament in Canada this month.

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