Upul Tharanga had his education at Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda. He started his cricket career as a teenager at his school. Having played for Nondescripts since the age of 15, he played for Sri Lanka's under-15, under-17 and under-19 squads. He had a successful under-19 World Cup in 2004 with successful innings of 117 and 61 in successive games. He was sent by the Sri Lankan cricketing board to play league cricket for Loughton Cricket Club in Essex.
Tharanga's Sri Lankan call-up in July 2005 made for a mixed 2005, after his family home was washed away by the Asian tsunami. His equipment, which was also washed away, was replaced by Kumar Sangakkara. Tharanga graduated to the "A" team and in July he was selected for the full squad.
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