Upul Tharanga justifies his recall to Test with unbeaten ton

Upul Tharanga may have been included in the Test squad to Zimbabwe to fill the void of Skipper Angelow Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal knowing of his aptitude byn the selectors.  Upul Tharanga had notched up 10 centuries and 28 fifties in one day Internationals, the selectors have branded him as a one day player. It is wrong as he has performed admirably well in the domestic circle playing for the NCC over the past decade.. The unbeaten 110 which he notched up in 208 balls in the first Test against Zimbabwe is ample testimony to the reality that he is also a competent Test player. The superiority of his inning outshone the performances of all other batsmen. This is food for thought for the selectors. Upul Tharanga fully vindicated his selection with this full-fledged unbeaten inning

Upul Tharanga is a cricketer born to play cricket having played for the Sri Lanka under 15, under 17 and under 19 teams and for under- 19 world cup team as a left hand opener. As a youngster he had excelled as a member of youth U 19 team world cup team in 2004 where he impressed having scored a dazzling century against South Africa. He had since played premier league cricket in Sri Lanka initially for Singha sports club and then to date for the Nondescripts cricket club. He played league cricket in England for Houghton Cricket Club in Essex, for Bangladesh PL, had continued to excel in domestic premier and  one day cricket in  Sri Lanka.

Tharanga had   performed admirably in the world cups in 2007 and 2011.But was dropped for the2015 world cup team and recalled to the squad as a replacement player. However in the world cup in year 2011 he was one amongst the best five batsmen in the entire tournament. Dropping him for the 2015 world cup squad was a ruthless discrimination made to him made by the selectors.

Tharanga has a comparatively better ODI record than our retired stalwarts like Mahela, Sangakkara and Dilshan.  Yet it is indeed a pity why the Chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya has overlooked him predominantly as the world’s highest opening partnership of 286 runs  is held by him and Tharanga  against England at Leeds in year 2006.In addition the duo has another double century partnership against New Zealand . Apart from it Tharanga partnering Dilshan has two double century partnerships of 282 and 231* against Zimbabwe and England in the world cup 2011. The opening stand of 282 with Dilshan is still the second highest partnership in world ODI history. Tharanga has also three other double century partnerships with Mahela Jayawardena during the same period 2010 and 2011 also for the first wicket.

 It is  also significant to divulge that Upul Tharanga holds the all-time second best record of  seven 200 plus double century partnerships in ODI’s next only to legendary Ricky Ponting  who has eight  such partnerships batting at Number 3.But  his feat was achieved in his entire career spanning 375 ODI’s more than almost  twice that of Tharanga’s ODI career.

Upul Tharanga was dropped surprisingly for the world cup 2015 squad despite his eligibility which was criticized by legendary Muttiah Muralidharan then .He was however recalled to the squad to replace an injured player. The step maternal conduct meted out to him relics a mystery.

The unbeaten century Upul Tharanga scored in the ongoing first Test against Zimbabwe in Harare was his second in 10 years simply because he was given the opportunity to play in Tests labeling him as a one day player. In this inning he has shown his class above the enduring younger players in the team. Tharanga is still young 31years old with still a lot of cricket left in him and should be persisted with to serve our cricket.

This unbeaten century is ample food for deliberation for the selectors and it would be the fervent optimism of all cricket lovers that he be retained and persisted with for both Tests and One Day Internationals. He possesses technique, temperament disposition and elegance in abundance for all versions of the game.

Sunil Thenabadu

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