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Century in NZ a dream come true for Sanga

Rex Clementine reporting from Wellington

Sri Lanka’s vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara said scoring a hundred in New Zealand was a dream come true for him as he struggled in these conditions during the team’s previous visits to the islands. In the first Test Match in Christchurch that ended inside three days, Sangakkara was the only successful batsman from both sides in the bowlers dominated game. In Sri Lanka’s second innings, with the team in a precarious position and the home team seamers calling the shots, Sangakkara batted with Sri Lanka’s tail to post his 11th hundred.

"It’s a great feeling," he told ‘The Island’. "The end result was disappointing, but personally it’s encouraging and it feels nice when all your hard work pays off. New Zealand is a country where I haven’t been successful before. I was determined to do well in this series and I am very pleased that I was able to come up with a big score in the first Test itself," the 29-year-old said.

"It’s definitely one of my better hundreds. It was special because the side was in trouble and I had to bat with the tail.

"Batting with the tail is challenging and strategically you’ve got to work out a lot of things. Murali and Lasith did good job in giving me the strike and the icing on the cake was that it was my first hundred against New Zealand," he said.

Despite losing the Test within three days, Sangakkara felt that there were positives for Sri Lanka to take and that they needed to approach the next Test with a positive frame of mind.

"This is a fantastic side and we have got some great achievements during the last 12 months. It was disappointing to lose, but we need to make sure that we approach the game in a positive way.

"I don’t think we lack ability to do well in these conditions. It’s just that we need to get our batting plan right. The middle order we have is still raw and new to cricket. But having gone through a pretty tough Test they will learn things."

Sri Lanka’s press for youth has resulted in two young players occupying number five and six with Chamara Kapugedara and Chamara Silva batting in those slots followed by Prasanna Jayawardene, another player with little Test experience.

"It is an inexperienced middle order, but if you are talking of talent, it’s second to none. We play in such a fast phase and modern day cricket involves a lot of commercial aspects and the demand is for wins. When people come in they don’t have time to settle. They are just thrown in the deep end and asked to deliver. There’s pressure on them and as seniors it’s up to us to give them the confidence. Tom and Mahela are doing the best they can to help these guys deliver and they’ll come good.

"The exposure is actually good for these guys. This will make them realize that making runs in the sub-continent is not everything. This is a greatest challenge."

Sangakkara also backed Chamara Silva, who made his Test debut in Christchurch and ended with a pair.

"It has happened to the greatest of players. Graham Gooch got a pair on debut against Australia and ended up with 8000 odd runs for England. Marvan Atapattu had five ducks in his first six innings and now he has hit hundreds against all nine Test playing nations. He has to forget that. It’s come and gone. He will not have to worry about making his first duck now as he has already made two. I am a great admirer of Chamara and the whole side is behind him."

Sangakkara also expressed his displeasure at the controversial run out of Muttiah Muralitharan that has made headlines here. "It’s disappointing. You are not going to play cricket forever and once you leave the game people will talk of how you played the game. For us Sri Lankans playing the game in the right spirit is important. They say when the great scorer comes he’s only going to look at how you played the game.

"We Sri Lankans are brought up in a system that upholds tradition of the sport and these traditions are very strong in cricket. That’s why cricket is a unique sport and as Sri Lankans we take a lot of pride in playing the game in the right spirit. We’ve been told and taught these values from our school days."

-The Island

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December 13, 2006 - Posted by | South Asia, Sports, Sports News & Opinion, World News

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