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Samarawickrama: Taking the game a little deeper gave us momentum

He also reveals how moving around the crease has helped him, a skill he developed during the last LPL

Sadeera Samarawickrama shapes to pull one away, Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh, Asia Cup, Super Fours, Colombo, September 9, 2023

Sadeera Samarawickrama was the star of Sri Lanka's batting innings  •  Associated Press

If Sri Lanka had aimed too high in their Super Four game against Bangladesh, they could have ended up with a sub-par score. These are the thoughts of Sadeera Samarawickrama, the star of Sri Lanka's batting innings, who struck 93 off 72 balls.
Across the match, Samarawickrama was the only batter to make more than 20 at more than a run a ball. But he lauded Pathum Nissanka, who hit 40 off 60, and Kusal Mendis, who made 50 off 73, for setting the foundation.
"When Pathum and Kusal were batting, the pitch seemed a bit slow and they did really well," Samarawickrama said. "If they had taken risks at that point and got out, maybe I would have got out cheaply too. But because they took the game a little deeper and gave us some momentum, I found it easier too.
"When I saw the pitch, we talked about how this wasn't a 320 pitch - it's a 250 surface. Even that you just have to get in the last eight overs or so. If we had gone too hard early, we might have been out for 220. So what I tried to do after getting a start was to get the team to 250."
Samarawickrama, who made his Sri Lanka debut in Tests in 2017, has clearly worked on his white-ball batting since then. On Saturday, he frequently shuffled towards off stump to access the leg side, and backed away to leg to hit through off - often behind point.
These were skills he had developed and used in last year's Lanka Premier League, he said. In that tournament, he was second on the run-scorers chart, with 294 runs and a strike rate of 131.25. It was that performance, in fact, that had launched him back into the conversation as an international player.
"Moving around the crease is something that I started in the LPL last year - playing with the bowler's mind and figuring out how to put pressure on him," Samarawickrama said. "However the pitch plays, I have to back my strengths, one of which is to back away and hit. It's something I learned with a lot of hard work, so I back myself to do that."
Sri Lanka have now also won 13 ODIs consecutively, second only to Australia, who had won 21 in a row.
"When you play as a team, your own performances are lifted," Samarawickrama said. "If we had lost, my performance today wouldn't be highlighted either. If the top order isn't doing well, the middle order gets it done. If the middle order can't do it, the top order has scored runs. We're playing as a team."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf