All his big Test innings — he has scored six double hundreds in his career, a feat bettered only by Don Bradman (12), Wally Hammond and Brian Lara (seven each) — have been slow affairs but the most tortuous episode of his international career was its start: it took him nearly seven years to get established.
A consistent performer, he has played many valuable innings for the team. His ability to graft an innings as well as score runs have made him an ideal opening partner for Sanath Jayasuriya in One-Day Internationals.
Playing with a correct technique, his timing is superb and hits effortlessly. An elegant player to watch, Atapattu’s signature shot is his high-elbow cover-drive.
His performance is not limited to one-dayers only. In Tests too, Atapattu has played some handy innings too.
Atapattu was appointed Test captain in April 2004. On the surface, a quiet and reserved character, his captaincy pedigree may not be entirely obvious to the outsider, but within the dressing room he is a strong and positive leader, firm and fair in his dealings with the players and aggressive in his approach to the game.
Under his stewardship, Sri Lanka has been consistently performing - what started with the overwhelming win on the Zimbabwe tour and tough fight on the Australia tour soon after saw Atapattu consolidating his position.
The team's recent successes in Asia Cup (where they emerged as winner beating India in the final) and Test and ODI sweep over visiting South Africans only proved his ability as an captain.