Sri Lankan batsman Upul Tharanga has seen a lot of up and downs in his career. Once an integral part of the team, his role is now limited to scoring some useful runs towards the end of the innings. However, it has not demotivated him and he said that he is enjoying this role. Innings of 53 not out off 49 balls and 40 off 33 at Edgbaston and Bristol respectively have hinted that he is enjoying his new role.
“I’ve done it before, for 10-15 games, in Australia and Sri Lanka. So it is not something new to me,” he said before the fourth match of the series, at The Kia Oval.
“Most of my career I have batted as a top-order batsman but it is good, I am enjoying it. It is up to the management, what they need from me. At the moment, they need me to bat in the middle order, so I’m happy to help the team. Lots of players are new players, so we have to give them experience and advice also.”
After the retirement of stalwarts like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan team management has been trying to build a team around the young players. As a result, Tharanga has been given the role of anchoring the middle order.
Tharanga said that he is happy with the team management’s decision to send him down the order.
“It is up to the management, but they need this from me,” Tharanga said.
“They need me to bat in the middle order, so I’m happy with that. We have lots of new players and we (need some) experience. I’m just happy to be here and doing something for the country.
“If I bat from the 30th over, I think I can play my normal game. If I go in for the last few overs, obviously I have to change my game. In the nets I’m trying different things,” he said.
“As a cricketer, I always want to play for my country. In the last few years, I am in and out of the team. So I am happy to be here. The last domestic season, I did well, so that’s why I got the opportunity – even batting six-seven. So I’m happy to do something for my country.”
So far in the series, the Sri Lankan batsmen are getting the starts but are continuously failing to convert them into big ones and as a result, Sri Lanka has failed to post big totals. Urging his players to convert the starts into big ones, Tharanga said that they are looking forward to winning the series.
“We are just needing a big score. Players are getting 40 or 50, and we are getting 240 to 260. As a batting side, some of the top four need to get a big score – get that, and I think we can get 300. There are still two ODIs left, and we are looking forward to winning those games and the series,” he summed up.