Chamara Kapugedera, a naturally aggressive right-hander, is one of the few genuinely exciting batsmen the selectors have unearthed from the Sri Lanka Under-19 side in recent times. 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 team 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. He excelled with a stunning knock of 131 in a one-day international against the world champions. It is an innings he still rates as 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 earlier this year, immediately impressing with his composure.
Now considered a possible opener in one-day cricket, he scored a maiden fifty against Pakistan in March 2006. His excellent fielder and useful bowling make him an promising package.