Upul Tharanga had a prolific career in which he played for several teams. Born on 2nd February 1985, he started playing cricket at a young age. Little did young Tharanga knew what fate had sealed for him. He has played in T20 leagues like BPL (Bangladesh Premier League) and Lanka Premier League. Now, let’s discuss his domestic career.
Upul Tharanga Domestic Career
He has been playing first-class cricket since 2001. He played 151 matches and managed to score 9457 runs with an average of 38.9. His high score stands at 265* runs. The number of centuries hit by him stands at 23 and half-centuries at 39.
He has played 392 List A games and has scored 12420 runs. His average stands at a decent 35.4 runs per innings. His high score in this format is 174* runs. While he has hit 29 centuries and 70 half-centuries.
He has played 124 T20 matches in which he scored 3337 runs with an outstanding average of 28.8 runs. His strike rate also stands at an impressive 127.6, and he has also hit 19 half-centuries.
Now, let’s talk a bit about his international career.
Upul Tharanga International Career
He played 235 matches from 2005 to 2019. He scored almost 7000 runs (6951 runs, to be exact). While his high score stood at 174*, he maintained a decent average of 33.7 runs per innings. The number of centuries he hit is 15 and half-centuries, 37.
While playing test cricket from 2005 to 2017 (13 runs), he played just 31 international test cricket matches. His performance wasn’t that impressive, and he was able to put up just 1754 runs in his entire test cricket career.
In 26 matches, he made 400+ runs with an average of 16.3.
Upul Tharanga ODI Debut
He made his ODI debut on 2nd August 2005 against the West Indies cricket team. He opened for the Lankans but was sent back after he scored six runs by Deighton Butler. As for the match, Sri Lanka had won the toss and decided to bat first.
Captain Marvan Atapattu (70 runs) and Kumar Sangakkara (79 runs) were the top scorers. While neither of them played with a tremendous strike rate, they managed to stabilize the innings and take the Lankans to 241 runs.
In response to this, the West Indies was able to reach just 191 runs. Had it not been for the innings of Dwayne Smith (68 runs), they may have ended up at an even lower score. Farveez Maharoof was the top wicket-taker who took three wickets.
It wasn’t a debut that Upul Tharanga would have been looking forward to, but the Lankans managed to win the match at the end of the day.
Upul Tharanga Test Debut
He made his debut at the Sardar Patel Stadium on 18th December 2005 against the Indian cricket team. In his first innings, he got out after scoring just a couple of runs by Irfan Pathan. He performed somewhat in the second innings as he scored 47 runs before Anil Kumble sent him back.
India had won the toss and had decided to bat first. They scored 398 runs in their first innings, in which VVS Laxman (104 runs) and Irfan Pathan (82 runs) made significant contributions. MS Dhoni also made 49 runs.
Sri Lanka, while in their first innings, were able to reach just 206. T Dilshan was the highest scorer (65 runs). Harbhajan Singh decimated the Lankan innings as he took a whopping seven wickets. India, in its second innings, declared at 316. Sri Lanka tried its best, but the team lost the match by 259 runs.
Upul Tharanga T20 Debut
He made his international T20 debut against the England cricket team on 15th June 2006. He did perform well and made 34 notches. The strike which he maintained was also tremendous and stood at 136. Because of him and Sanath Jayasuriya (41 runs), Sri Lanka made a decent start.
Lankans went on to score 163 runs in total as they batted first after winning the toss. Paul Collingwood was the best English bowler since he took four wickets. The English chased the target well for most of the time but managed to make just 161 runs.
Opener Marcus Trescothick made 72 runs before he got run out by Sangakkara. Sri Lanka won by a razor-thin margin of 2 runs. Surprisingly, Sanath Jayasuriya was the best Sri Lankan bowler as he took two wickets. It was an excellent T20 debut for Upul Tharanga.
Upul Tharanga Last Test
His test cricket journey began against India and also ended against India. His last test started on 12th August 2016. He scored five runs in his first innings before Mohammed Shami dismissed him. His second innings were also not very impressive since he scored just seven runs.
Upul Tharanga Last ODI
He played his last ever ODI against the Proteas on 16th March 2019. Here too, he wasn’t able to perform well and scored just two runs. While many might start to doubt his ability as a batsman, one should remember that one-off performance is not the indicator of a player’s potential.
Upul Tharanga Last T20
His last T20I match happened on 16th March 2018 against the Bangladesh cricket team. He scored just five runs in five balls. Sri Lanka lost the match by two wickets as the Bangladesh team chased the set target of 160 runs while just one ball was left.
Upul Tharanga Wife
Nilanka Vithanage is the wife of Upul Tharanga. Incidentally, she is the ex-wife of Tharanga’s teammate T Dilshan. She also has a child from her first husband, Dilshan. Many speculate that Tharanga was the reason the couple (Nilanka and Dilshan) got divorced.
Upul Tharanga Captaincy
Statistics tell us that he wasn’t much great of a captain. In fact, in the ODI format, Sri Lanka lost 15 matches and won 4 under his captaincy. His performance led him to be removed from the post, and Thisara Perera was made captain instead.
Under him, the team also got fined for a slow run rate several times. When Angelo Matthews used to be a regular Lankan captain, Tharanga was a part-time captain when Matthews would get injured.
But when Sri Lanka lost several matches under Angelo and one even against Zimbabwe, he was removed, and Tharanga was made the permanent captain.
It was also under him that Sri Lanka suffered the biggest defeat in test cricket history at the hands of the Indian cricket team. The slow over-rate was an issue throughout his captaincy. He also got banned from playing matches because of this, besides getting fined.
Upul Tharanga Retirement
He retired from international cricket on 23rd February 2021. Though his captaincy wasn’t that great for the Sri Lankan team, he will be remembered as one of the most prolific Lankan cricketers. He is also fifth in the list of several centuries scored by a Sri Lankan batsman in ODI cricket.
He tweeted his decision to make the announcement public. Tharanga said that his family and his fans were all there for him during his ups and downs of his career. He also wished the Sri Lankan team luck for their future endeavors.
He also thanked the Sri Lankan cricket board, saying that it would not have been possible without their support and guidance.
His contribution to Sri Lankan cricket will be cherished and remembered by Sri Lankans forever. It would also be great if he decides to guide young Sri Lankan batsmen who wish to represent the national team in the future.
Why Was Upul Tharanga Banned?
He was banned in the year 2011 for three months for failing a dope test. He claimed that he had taken the substances without any ill intentions and took medicine for his severe shoulder pain. Though it wasn’t that much of a serious offense, he was still banned.