Shane Warne is cherished by Sri Lankans for his tsunami relief work: Ranatunga Arjuna

Arjuna Ranatunga, a former Sri Lanka captain, paid tribute to Shane Warne . Ranatunga said Warne came close to Sri Lanka's hearts after the 2004 tsunami .

Arjuna Ranatunga, a former Sri Lanka captain, paid tribute to Australian great Shane Warne on Wednesday, saying the spinner has found a place in the island nations hearts as a result of his contribution to the country's assistance after the 2004 tsunami.Sri Lanka paid tribute to the late Australian, who died in March of a alleged heart attack, ahead of the first Test against Australia in Galle, a venue where Warne took his 500th Test wicket.Following the destruction caused by the Boxing Day tsunami, the wrist spinner dominated the South Asian nation.Everyone knows he has been a great player, but Ranatunga said he came very close to Sri Lanka's hearts after the tsunami.

Warne helped raise more than $1 million to restore the Galle International Stadium, which was destroyed by the tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people around the world, 31,000 of whom were in Sri Lanka.Ranatunga, who had many on-field run-ins with Warne, said the Australian was a great player and a tough competitor.When the team defeated Australia by seven wickets in Lahore, the left-handed batsman, one of Sri Lanka's greatest cricketers, led to the 1996 50-over World Cup crown.Ranatunga said he and his staff took the Australian way of sledging and taught them the technique in full force.

I used this against Australia in the 1996 World Cup final, which was disappointing.Ranatunga has rated Warne as the greatest cricket ball player among leg-spinners of his time, including India's Anil Kumble and Pakistan's Mushtaq Ahmed.Warne finished his illustrious career with 708 Test wickets, second only to Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharans 800.Both players had their success when they met against each other, according to Ranatunga, who explained the rivalry between the two spin legends.

When we were playing Australia, I could get the best from Murali.Aravinda de Silva, Muralitharan, and Romesh Kaluwitharana, all retired Sri Lankan cricketers, came down to Galle to pay their respects to Warne.