Thilan Thusara Samaraweera
September 22, 1976, Colombo
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
Thilan Samaraweera's batting will not fill a stadium; yet, in a batting line-up of flamboyant strokeplayers, his patience and solidity offers a vital balancing factor. In his second avatar he has added more strokes to make his batting more well-rounded, but what Samaraweera does best is wear bowlers down through patient and relentless accumulation. His batting is built around reserves of resilience, determination and sheer toughness, and he had to draw into them all to overcome the trauma of cricket's darkest hours - the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore.
Samaraweera will forever be remembered for not letting a bullet injury end his international career. He was in his best form, having scored two consecutive double-centuries in Pakistan, when his team bus came under fire in March 2009 and a bullet penetrated 12 inches into his left thigh. He needed surgery and spent three months dealing with the physical and mental wounds of his ordeal. That Samaraweera returned to play his 50th Test in July was a triumph of his strength of character.
His return was a second coming after he had begun his career with a hundred on debut against India in 2001. The retirements of Aravinda de Silva and Hashan Tillakaratne gave Samaraweera a run in the middle order but indifferent form in 2006 led to him being dropped. He returned 18 months later, a more aggressive, prolific batsman and yet remained as solid as he was before, reigniting his career with a century against India in July 2008. It was the beginning of a purple patch which continued even after his run-in with gunmen.
Despite all the runs Samaraweera scored, question-marks remained due to his relative lack of success outside the subcontinent. Worse was to follow when he went through a wretched run of form against Australia at home, in 2011. He was subsequently dropped for the Tests against Pakistan in UAE, but defeat in that series forced the selectors to recall him for the South Africa tour. Samaraweera responded in style with two centuries when some of his more illustrious team-mates struggled to put bat to ball. Samaraweera's finest hour came when his century in Durban delivered Sri Lanka their first win in South Africa.
Though he had a moderately successful year in 2012, Samaraweera was the most notable batting failure in Sri Lanka's year-end tour of Australia. Despite scoring plenty of runs in the domestic season thereafter, he didn't find a place in Sri Lanka's squad for the home Test series against Bangladesh. With no meaningful Test cricket scheduled for Sri Lanka for several months, Samaraweera announced his retirement from all international cricket in March 2013.
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