Chamara Kapugedera, a naturally aggressive right-hander, was one of the few genuinely exciting batsmen the selectors unearthed from Sri Lanka's Under-19 set-up.
From the age of 11, when he first turned out for Dharmaraja College in Kandy, Kapugedera has hardly wasted an opportunity to push himself up the ladder. He has captained all the junior school sides from the U-13 to the first XI. Following a prolific 2003-04 season, where he scored over 1000 runs, he was picked for the U-19 tour to Pakistan the following year and excelled with a stunning knock of 131 in a one-dayer against the world champions.
It was an innings which he rated as one of his best although he batted equally well for 70 in his first game for Sri Lanka A against the strong New Zealand A team in 2005. The selectors, desperate to unearth new talent, eventually gambled on an early promotion and fast-tracked him into the national squad after several glowing reports from development coaches. Kapugedera's father, also a former Dharmaraja cricketer, provided early coaching and all the encouragement he needed to develop.
David Karunaratne (his first coach) and Sumithra Warnakulasuriya (his U-19 coach) also played important roles in shaping Kapugedera's career. He was first picked in the national squad against India in November but pulled out of the tour with an injury. However, he made his ODI debut, aged just 18, against Australia in Perth in 2006, immediately impressing with his composure.
Considered a possible opener in one-day cricket, he scored a maiden fifty against Pakistan in March 2006 and followed that with his first Test fifty against England, at Trent Bridge, as Sri Lanka squared the series having started with a golden duck at Lord's. He's in the process of cementing his place in the one-day squad, scoring a handful of half-centuries since the CB Series in Australia in 2007-08.