Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Replacing Sanath brings its own kind of pressure - Upul Tharanga

Despite figuring in 82 one-day international matches, Sri Lankan opener Upul Tharanga hasn’t quite managed to cement his place in the national team. So when the selectors decided that he should replace Sanath Jayasuriya at the top of the Lankan batting line-up for the first ODI against India, the 24-year-old left-hander considered it a brand new beginning. In an interview with The Indian Express, Tharanga talked about why this series is important for him. Excerpts:

How huge is the responsibility to replace Jayasuriya as an opener?

It’s huge. I’m taking the place of a player who has a number of records against his name. It will be tough. There will be pressure. But having Dilshan at the other end, I can hope to play my natural game.

How important is this series for you?

I’m looking forward to this series because I’ve got a chance after many months. I have a decent record in India, I have scored two hundreds in the Champions Trophy, but that’s history now. I have to start afresh, and scoring against a good side always helps.

Did you speak to Jayasuriya before coming here?

I spoke to every senior player in the side — Sangakkara, Mahela (Jayawardene), Muralitharan, and Sanath. We discussed what should be done on this tour, and Jayasuriya told me how I should go after the bowlers and pace my innings. I’ll remember that.

You had a good England tour and then the Champions Trophy in 2006, but after that your performance went down. What happened?

After the World Cup, I didn’t play well and was dropped for eight months. I was picked for the Pakistan series, but after that I didn’t get a place in the side again. I thought my career would be over if I don’t perform. There is a lot of competition back home. But I told myself I have the capability, and that it was a matter of time before I returned. I knew there were domestic cricket and A tours, so if I kept performing, I would get a chance.


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