Sadeera, from wilderness to Lanka’s main man- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

MUMBAI:  MODERN-DAY Sri Lankan batters make you fall in love with the sport all over again. Kusal Mendis. Pfft. Gorgeous talent. Avishka Fernando. Remember him? He was one of the many next Aravinda de Silva’s the Island has produced. Niroshan Dickwella.That swagger alone was enough, boss. Bhanuka Rajapaksa.

The sound alone made you swoon. But because all of them were (still are) very talented, they made you lose your hair. They seldom married ability with meaningful contributions. Another Sri Lankan batter — Sadeera Samarawickrama — is finally beginning to marry both. When he made his Test debut in 2017, there was promise. Untapped promise meant he went back into the wilderness but not before being praised by the likes of Virat Kohli and VVS Laxman during a tour to India in 2017.

As the country changed its structure, Samarawickrama fell through the cracks. It’s taken some time for him to come back up the ranks but the No. 4 is back making the big runs. What brought him back into the limelight was having a couple of fine seasons in the Lanka Premier League. After finishing as the second highest run-scorer in 2022, he backed it up with a fifth place finish in 2023. At the recently-held Asia Cup, he was the third highest run-scorer, with 215 runs at an average of 35.8. While that may seem like an underwhelming returns, mind you that the pitches in Sri Lanka have been hard for the stroke-makers. After they conceded 428 against South Africa, Samarawickrama spoke about it. “It had a significant impact,” he had said when asked about the impact these pitches had on their bowlers. 

While their bowlers may have suffered, the stylish No. 4 is intent on making up for lost time. He’s made 331 runs in six games, the ninth on the list of run-getters with an average of 82.75. Why has that been the case? “I think what he has done is he’s realized what his game is,” was the response of coach Chris Silverwood in the pre-match press conference. “He’s learned about himself and what works for him, more importantly. And then now he’s just trying to do that consistently time and time and time again.” On Thursday, he will get a chance to do his thing against Kohli, who was impressed by his attitude in 2017. 
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