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Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 14:32 GMT
Sri Lanka skipper glad to hit back
Hashan Tillakaratne
Tillakaratne says he was motivated by his critics
Hashan Tillakaratne breathed life into his Test career with an unbeaten 74 against Australia in Colombo.

The Sri Lankan captain has been tipped for the sack following defeats in the first two Tests and a personal tally of 81 runs in four innings.

"I rate this innings as good as the 136 I scored against India when I came back after two and a half years.

"When I read the newspapers, I went in there thinking this was my last innings," the 36-year-old said.

"I just played my normal game and wanted to be there as long as possible and make a big score.

"Until I got to about 30 odd I was struggling a bit, but after that I was OK.

"We all know I had a lean period but after this knock I should be able to get more runs. If I'm not scoring, I don't want to be a liability to the team."

Tillakaratne has an excellent overall record of 4,454 runs prior to this game at an average of 42, including 11 centuries.

But a downturn in form coincided with his elevation to the captaincy and he has won only one series since taking charge in April last year, a 1-0 home success against England.

Sri Lanka ended day three against Australia in a good position, however, having reduced them to 80-3 in their second innings, a deficit of only 74 runs.

"We have to pick up early wickets tomorrow. The wicket is starting to turn and it will definitely help our spinners.

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