The Island by Rex Clementine
The last few months have been extremely tough for Sri Lankan opener Upul Tharanga, who missed the national cricket team’s tour of England as he served a three month drug ban imposed on him by the International Cricket Council. He was recalled to the side soon after the ban concluded and with the five match ODI series against touring Australians at stake, the opener slammed his 12th ODI hundred to help Sri Lanka to a comfortable win and keep their chances alive in the series during the third ODI at Suriyawewa on Tuesday.
Tharanga also became the fifth Sri Lankan to score a hundred against the world’s number one ranked team following Aravinda de Silva (2), Sanath Jayasuriya (2), Marvan Atapattu and Kumar Sangakkara. It was also his fourth hundred in 2011, an exceptional record given the fact that he missed three months of international cricket.
"I always wanted to score a hundred against the Australians and I am really happy that I have got it," Tharanga, who was named Man of the Match for his 111, told journalists.
"The difference between other teams and Australia is that they are a tough side. If you take their fast bowlers, they have speed and they swing the ball too. There are many reasons why a hundred against Australia is special," the 26-year-old added.
During his knock he also went past Aravinda de Silva, who has scored 11 ODI hundreds including two against Australia. Other Sri Lankan stalwarts, Marvan Atapattu and Kumar Sangakkara also have 11 ODI hundreds. He also went onto become the ninth Sri Lankan during his knock to complete 4000 ODI runs.
"I am very happy with the way I batted. We didn’t get enough runs on the board in the first two games. After those two games what we spoke was to ensure that one of the top four guys batted through the innings. We had a good opening stand and after Dilshan was dismissed I thought I should bat till the 45th over. "
Batting wasn’t easy earlier on Tuesday as the seam bowlers beat the openers’ bat a few times. But once the new ball lost its shine, Tharanga was outstanding. "In the first game here the ball was coming to the bat slower. This is a completely different wicket. But the ball swung a lot earlier on and it was tough out there. But after 15 overs it was fine."
After Kandy and Suriyawewa legs of the tour the teams will now play the remaining two ODIs in Colombo with R. Premadasa Stadium hosting both games.
Most ODI hundreds for Sri Lanka
Player Mat 100s
Sanath Jayasuriya 441 28
Mahela Jayawardene 345 14
Upul Tharanga 123 12
Marvan Atapattu 268 11
Kumar Sangakkara 292 11
Aravinda de Silva 308 11
T.M. Dilshan 212 10
4000 ODI runs for Sri Lanka
Player Mat Runs Ave
Sanath Jayasuriya 441 13364 32.51
Mahela Jayawardene 345 9520 32.82
Aravinda de Silva 308 9284 34.90
Kumar Sangakkara 292 9243 38.03
Marvan Atapattu 268 8529 37.57
Arjuna Ranatunga 269 7456 35.84
T.M. Dilshan 212 5587 35.36
Roshan Mahanama 213 5162 29.49
Upul Tharanga 123 4046 36.45 pic
Upul Tharanga – "I always wanted to score a hundred against the Australians and I am really happy that I have got it,"