DateLine: 2nd March 2009
Prolific Sri Lankan batsman Thilan Samaraweera Monday earned a place among cricket's elite by scoring twin double hundreds in back-to-back Tests.
The right-hander became the sixth batsmen to achieve the feat, joining Australia's Don Bradman, England's Walter Hammond, South Africa's Graeme Smith, India's Vinod Kambli and Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara.
Bradman and Hammond managed the double twice.
The 31-year-old notched 214 against Pakistan on the second day of the second Test after scoring 314 in the drawn first Test in Karachi.
"I am really pleased to get to that exclusive club. I have worked really hard over the last two years and it certainly has helped me," said Samaraweera who recalled his efforts after he was left out of the team three years ago.
"Everything changed after I was dropped from the side in 2006 after the England series," he said.
"Many people thought that was my end. I must be thankful for Chandika Haturusinghe, the Sri Lanka "A" team coach. During those 18 months I added a few new additions to my game.
"With those experiments things started working for me. After the technical change that helped me to be consistent, I now have a positive approach and I look for runs all the time."
Samarweera's effort lifted Sri Lanka to 606 in their first innings. Pakistan closed the second day on 110-1.
"I wasn't among runs. I got two hundreds in county games, but didn't make any runs in Test Matches. I was a bit surprised that I will be out for that long. I didn't score that many runs in India in 2005, but scored runs against Pakistan and Bangladesh.
"The match at Trinidad (against the West Indies) was a turning point in many ways," said Samaraweera who made a hundred in a lost cause last year.
Samaraweera, whose elder brother Dulip Samaraweera also played for the country, denied Pakistan's bowlers were weak.
"Maybe the Pakistani attack doesn't have the big names, but this attack is good. Umar Gul in particular is a fine bowler," said Samaraweera. Gul finished with a career-best 6-135.
Samaraweera, who made his debut in 1998, said his lack of other choices meant he had needed to improve his batting.
"I realised that I don't have a future as a spinner. Apart from (Muttiah) Muralitharan there were other spinners like Ruwan Kalpage and Kumar Dharmasena, so I thought I must work hard on my batting and I did."
With his high scores, Samaraweera said he is now eyeing a place in the Sri Lankan one-day team.
"All what I can do is to remain in runs both in domestic and international cricket. Getting there into the one-day team is up to the selectors and management," said Samaraweera.
(Article: Copyright © 2009 AFP)
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