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Samaraweera enjoys ton in unique style

Associated Press
Dec 28, 2011 at 04:31am IST

Durban: Instead of holding his bat up in cricket's traditional way of celebrating a century, Thilan Samaraweera likes to pretend it's a gun.

He laughs now as he describes his unique celebration, but the reason behind the gesture is far from funny.

Sri Lanka's Samaraweera has taken to holding his bat like a rifle when he reaches 100 after he was shot on a tour to Pakistan in 2009.

Celebrating a ton? Samaraweera celebrates life

Thilan Samaraweera celebrates his 100 during Day Two of the second Test against South Africa in Durban. (Getty Images)

The batsman was struck in the leg when terrorist gunmen attacked the team bus in Lahore in an act that shook the sport and forced authorities to suspend international tours to Pakistan.

After his battling 102 sent Sri Lanka to a commanding position in the second Test against South Africa on Tuesday Samaraweera performed his mock gun shooting again.

For him, it's a celebration of life after his ordeal. "Occasaionally I do it," said the smiling Samaraweera, who kept the bullet that was imbedded in his left thigh in the gun attack as a reminder of his brush with death. "I do it after the terrorists shot me."

He did it with real glee on Tuesday as his 13th Test century put Sri Lanka on course for a long-awaited victory in South Africa, where the tourists have never won a Test.

It was even more satisfying considering that Samaraweera thought his career was over when he was dropped for a recent series - ironically against Pakistan in their new cricket home in United Arab Emirates.

He was called up late for this tour as cover for fellow batsman Mahela Jayawardene and justified his place in Durban by pushing Sri Lanka toward an historic win.

At 35, he now calls this three-match series his "comeback tour," grabbing his second chance at cricket after narrowly escaping from a hail of bullets with his life three years ago.

"It was a very frustrating moment in my life being dropped as I did really well in the last three years for Sri Lanka as a batsman," he said. "But, it can happen in your life and now I have to start again. Hopefully I can do this for another three or four years."

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