West Indies v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Guyana, 1st day March 23, 2008

Practice game was big help - Warnapura

Cricinfo staff

Malinda Warnapura doesn't feel the pressure of having to fill the void created by Sanath Jayasuriya's retirement © AFP

Sri Lanka opener Malinda Warnapura, who cracked his maiden Test century on the first day, said that playing a practice game at the same ground just before the Test worked to his advantage. He made 132 and 50 without being dismissed in a three-day game against a Guyana President's Select XI.

"It helped us a lot to adjust to the conditions. It was much easier batting against the new ball on this pitch, since it was coming on to the bat nicely," he said. "But once the ball got old, the pitch became a lot slower, and it was much more difficult to play your strokes. It was the same thing when we played the three-day game, so I knew it was going to be slow, and I just had to be patient."

After grabbing one of the spots vacated by the retirements of Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya, Warnapura said he wasn't weighed down by the pressure of replacing such big names. "I am not Sanath Jayasuriya," he said. "I am only a player who has been given an opportunity, and I will have to take the chance and prove that I am good enough to play for Sri Lanka."

He added 130 runs with Michael Vandort for the first wicket and said that initially the strategy had been to preserve wickets. "The first hour was the hardest time, everyone wanted us to keep on batting and spend time in the middle and I think Vandort and myself, we did the job."

Sri Lanka are looking for their first Test win in the West Indies and Warnapura was happy with his team's position - 269 for 4 - at the end of the first day. "We had a game plan to not lose more than two wickets per session, unfortunately we lost a couple of wickets in the last session, that was the only unwanted thing which happened but at the end of the day, as a team we are looking all right."