Lahiru Thirimanne
Lahiru Thirimanne

He may only have arrived in the country two days ago and have just a few Test matches under his belt but Lahiru Thirimanne finally helped Sri Lanka's batsmen land a punch against Australia's bowlers this summer.

The 23-year-old produced a knock of great resolve and maturity to help the tourists post a competitive 294 on the opening day of the third Test at the SCG.

Averaging just 19.84 from his seven previous Test appearances, Thirimanne was the star of Sri Lanka's batting effort on day one before he was dismissed late for 91.

Thirimanne's gutsy innings certainly deserved a maiden Test century before he needlessly threw his wicket away off the bowling of Nathan Lyon in the last session.

The left-hander, who was in the side due to the injury to star batsman Kumar Sangakkara, only got off a plane from Sri Lanka on Tuesday and managed just one net session before the match.

While he was kicking himself for not capitalising on his big chance at a ton, Thirimanne could be proud after displaying the grit and application the tourists have lacked all summer.

"I'm really disappointed. It was great opportunity for me (to get a century) after a long break from Test cricket," he said.

"But I feel I batted really well.

"At the end of the day I'm really happy with my performance.

"Kumar is a great player, one of the greatest cricketers in the world so it's a great opportunity for me to replace him and play for a Test match in Australia.

"I thought I grabbed that opportunity with both hands."

And he certainly did.

After being given out lbw on his very first ball, only to get a reprieve via a review, Thirimanne slowly found his groove.

He survived a torrid spell from Mitchell Johnson just after lunch before displaying a vast array of shots all over the ground.

Thirimanne took a particular liking to off-spinner Lyon, and smashed 13 fours and a huge six in his 151-ball innings.

Along with skipper Mahela Jayawardene (72), the pair have given Sri Lanka's bowlers something to defend when the Australians start batting on day two.

He credited Jayawardene's knock for repelling Australia's four-pronged pace attack and inspiring the wounded Sri Lankan side.

"Mahela batted really well under pressure," Thirimanne said.

"Today I saw (from) Mahela, one of the best knocks in Test cricket."

Asked how he felt when he saw umpire Aleem Dar's finger go up for lbw on his first ball, Thirimanne said: "It was a great ball and I thought I was out.

"But I turned to Mahela (Jayawardene) and he said I think it's going leg side so at that moment I straight away asked for a review.

"Early on the wicket had a bit of bounce but later on it got set and the ball was coming nicely onto the bat."


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