Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It will be fun opening with Jayasuriya in IPL : Tendulkar

“I will be opening for the coming match, and it will be with Sanath Jayasuriya, with whom I had last opened in 1998, while playing at Lords. It will be fun,” enthused Sachin Tendulkar, who on Saturday was named captain of the Mumbai Indians in the DLF Indian Premier League. Tendulkar was talking on the sidelines of the function to unveil the Mumbai team’s logo, a blue-white Sudarshan Chakra with orange spokes.
On persistent questioning, Tendulkar said: “How can I talk about strategies? It will be confidential but then I have not even started thinking of it as my team members are yet to come together.”
Tendulkar opined that Twenbty20 matches were an entertainment that allowed an entire family from a five-year-old to an 80-year-old to come down to the stadium and enjoy the game. “This is what I like most about this format, it is all over in three hours.”

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Jayasuriya seals a thriller for Lankans

Following a disastrous Commonwealth Bank series, with nothing to lose, the Sri Lankans came up with a stunning fight back wining their last preliminary round game, a dead rubber, against world champions Australia in a thrilling fashion here at the Melbourne Cricket ground by just 13 runs yesterday.

With Australia on 173 for nine chasing 222 to victory, it looked all over, but Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken added 35 runs for the last wicket in 52 balls and took Australia ever so close. The hosts needed 13 runs off 12 balls and iceman Sanath Jayasuriya playing his last game here in Australia was called on to bowl the penultimate over and he struck in his very first ball when Brett Lee dragged one on to his stumps trying to pull the left-arm spinner.

That started off celebrations in the stand and on the field. The Sri Lankans were scheduled to catch a mid night flight back to Colombo and the result certainly would have made it a happy journey back to Sri Lanka after what had been a horrendous tour here in Australia.

Prior to yesterday’s game, the Sri Lankans had looked out of sorts having won just one of their seven games and with criticism mounting; they came up with a spirited display defending their modest total of 221 under lights in front of 22,500 fans.

A terrific diving catch by Lasith Malinga at long-off to dismiss Adam Gilchrist had turned the momentum towards the Sri Lankans and they did well to maintain the pressure, despite a few hiccups in the field and Australia crumbled.

After Gilchrist and James Hopes had added 107 runs in just 88 balls, it looked as if the tourists were heading for another massive defeat, but excellent bowling by the seamers backed up by the part-timers helped them to bounce back.

Gilchrist, playing his last game at the MCG and against the Sri Lankans provided the usual entertainment reaching his half-century in just 35 balls. Mahela Jayawardene gambled by introducing Muttiah Muralitharan for the second Power Play immediately after the mandatory Power Play and although the off-spinner went for a few runs, he provided the breakthrough by dismissing James Hopes for 28. Earlier, Muralitharan had a confident leg before shout against Gilchrist turned down with the batsman on 34.

After a referral to the third umpire, Hopes was ruled out bowled by Muralitharan and that paved way for a dramatic Australian collapse as the hosts lost five wickets in the space of eight runs. From 107 for none, Australia were reduced to 115 for five and then 123 for six.

Gilchrist was on a rampage having hit 12 fours and two sixes and he hoisted Kulasekara and Malinga at long-off dived to his left and took a remarkable catch. Gilchrist made 83 in 50 balls and was named Man of the Match.

Then the pillars of Australian batting line up, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds all departed with the total on 115. Clarke and Symonds were dismissed without scoring while Ponting managed just one.

Clarke was cleaned up by Amarasinghe while Symonds was caught down the leg-side off the same bowler and Ponting was adjudged leg before wicket to Kulasekara.

Then Malinga came on and trapped Brad Haddin leg before wicket with a yorker while part-timer Chamara Kapugedara had the dangerous Michael Hussey caught in the crease trying to defend and bowled him.

Brad Hogg’s stubborn resistance was ended when Murali had him leg before wicket and the tail wagged, with Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken fighting it out, but eventually Sri Lanka bowled out the Australians with 11 balls to spare.

With the bat, the Sri Lankan middle order that had looked so fragile, finally hit form and gave the bowlers something do defend. They lost four wickets with just 61 runs on the board and half-centuries by Jayawardene (50) and Tillekeratne Dilshan (62) helped them to 221.

Jayawardene brought Sri Lanka back into contention adding 64 runs in 74 balls for the fifth wicket with Dilshan and then Dilshan and Chamara Silva (35) added a further 60 runs in 74 balls.

Silva showed a glimpse of what he’s capable and it reminded everyone of his form during the World Cup last year and he was dismissed trying to accelerate the run rate.

Nathan Bracken was the pick of the bowlers for the Australians picking up four for 29 in ten overs. His first spell of eight overs was much disciplined and cost the Australians just eight runs and he picked up danger man Sanath Jayasuriya.

Jaysuriya made his international debut at this same ground 19 years ago on the Boxing Day and he ended his career scoring 23 runs, but more than that, his final breakthrough to win the game for his team will be remembered for a long time.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

More hitting out of the park - Sanath Jayasuriya : by Martin Williamson and Andrew Miller

Sanath Jayasuriya

The man who redefined the art of one-day batting, and in doing so, won a World Cup for his country, Sri Lanka. Jayasuriya began his career as a legspinning lower-order batsman, but his promotion to the role of pinch-hitter before the 1995-96 tournament transformed the game forever. Against England at Faisalabad in the quarter-finals, he slogged 82 from 44 balls to put a riposte beyond England's limited ambitions, and he's since pummelled a world-record 247 sixes, with the promise of more to come. With forearms like industrial springs, Jayasuriya has turned the uppercut over point into his stock scoring stroke. Woe betide any bowler who dares to give him width.

[Video] Guard of honour for Jayasuriya courtesy Team Australia

What a moment for Sanath Jayasuriya. It must be an incredible feeling to have opposition such as Australia honour you in such an unplanned manner. It was great sportmanship from the Aussies. The Sri Lankans too returned the favour for Gilly who also bid farewell to the MCG.

Greeted with an honour guard by his opponents, Sanath Jayasuriya played his final innings on this continent. His footwork had been sluggish all summer. His reflexes had slowed. Determined to rouse himself for one final fling, the buccaneer clouted a couple of boundaries over cover that brought back memories of his halcyon days. In full flight he was quite a sight, bashing the ball about, dispatching presentable deliveries to unlikely places. Just for a moment it seemed that Jayasuriya might produce one last hurrah. It was not to be. Before long he was late on his shot, whereupon he trudged from the field looking about as happy as a News Corporation journalist. Where have the years gone?

Brad Hogg's retirement was unexpected. Speculation has been rife that he will sign for an Indian league. Perhaps he just wants to spend more time at home.

It has been an uneasy summer and players have responded in their own ways. The looming Pakistan tour has been the hidden factor in many of this summer's complications.

Hogg might not play in the finals. Maybe his chance came too late in his career. Although he did not take many wickets this season, he did bat splendidly in the Sydney Test match. But he stepped aside. Who knows the workings of another man's mind?

His family had come to watch his last stand. As usual, the earnest, energetic, slightly eccentric tweaker took a vital wicket. As always he served to the best of his ability.

After that it was just a matter of waiting for Gilchrist to play his last innings on a ground he has graced. Returning the compliment, the Lankans welcomed him. He promptly produced numerous thrilling drives and pulls that sent the score rushing along. Murali was mauled and the pacemen were dispatched with elan. He charged past 50 and kept playing brilliant strokes till the end came. He reached 83 in 50 balls and not a swipe was essayed. His bat was a flashing blade. It was a chivalrous, generous innings, as exhilarating to watch as it must have been to play.

A small crowd was given a rare treat, something to savour long after the final curtain has fallen. No tears need be shed for the gloveman. Rather let us celebrate a happy ending. Gilchrist is going on his own terms, and in style. Writes Peter Roebuck for The SMH.

"It’s a dream come true to play with Sachin": Jayasuriya

Sri Lankan explains how his sincerity towards cricket has seen him outpace others in the unique IPL bidding

Sanath Jayasuriya is eagerly looking forward to playing in the Indian Premiere League. Speaking to DNA, the veteran Sri Lankan batsman said he felt honoured to have been sold for over a million dollars and has promised to work for the Mumbai team the way he has tried to help Sri Lanka.

“I know my cost is big news. But I know the price has come owing to my contribution to the national team over the years. Now, it is my responsibility to ensure that the Mumbai team benefits worthily for the money they are spending
on me.”

Jayasuriya said he was not surprised at the low price some Australian cricketers attracted despite having a higher base money than some Indians and Sri Lankans.

“It is a different thing in our part of the world. The Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans are more popular than the Australians in the sub-continent. So I’m not surprised at all,” he said.

The veteran batsman said he was happy to be playing along side Sachin Tendudlkar. “It’s a dream come true to be playing with Sachin. I always enjoyed playing against Sachin. But this time it will be a new experience. I’m looking forward to that.”

Jayasuriya would not say if the IPL has increased his hunger to stay on in the international cricket longer but admitted that he would like to prove his credentials in the shortest version of the game just as the way he tried to do in the Tests or ODIs.

Sanath Jayasuriya & Muttiah Muralitharan bids farewell to Australia.

Australia's players line up as Sanath Jayasuriya walks out for his final innings on Australian soil, Australia v Sri Lanka, CB Series, 12th ODI, Melbourne, February 29, 2008

Very rarely do you see a guard of honour for a sportsman, especially in cricket, where the run of play has denied even the best of batsmen and bowlers one. But on Friday, at the MCG, there were three guards of honour for some of the all time greats of cricket.

First, the Australians did it as Sanath Jayasuriya walked into bat and a rush of wickets towards the end of Sri Lanka’s innings allowed them to stage another for Muttiah Muralitharan, and later, the Sri Lankans paid back the complement when they applauded Adam Gilchrist all the way to the crease.

It was the scene of the lowest point of his career, but Sri Lankan star Muttiah Muralitharan said his one regret about playing cricket in Australia was that he did not perform better at Test level.

Muralitharan, and fellow veteran Sanath Jayasuriya, bid farewell to Australia as international cricketers in Friday's tri-series clash with the home side at the MCG.

The Australian team formed a guard of honour for each player as they came out to bat and although the match carried little weight, with Sri Lanka missing the finals, Muralitharan and Jayasuriya went out on a winning note, the tourists recording a remarkable 13-run victory.

Both veterans played key roles in the result, Muralitharan bowling superbly and picking up two crucial wickets, while Jayasuriya secured the win when he bowled Brett Lee with his first ball when brought on in the 49th over.

Muralitharan, 35, said he bore no grudges against Australian cricket, despite being called for throwing in Melbourne in the 1995 Boxing Day Test and also later in Adelaide.

However, he said he would always regret not performing with more distinction in Australia in Test cricket.

"Sometime there were ups and downs in Australia, but still I enjoyed my cricket here," he said here after Friday's game.

"The Boxing Day was most memorable time for me, it was hard.

"I got over it, but still I want to play after that in Australia.

"So I tried to perform, but the only country I couldn't really perform in Tests was Australia.

"I played only five Tests and my average was not good enough, but in one-dayers I did really well in the Australia.

"But that disappointment will be there forever."

Muralitharan has taken 723 Test wickets, but managed just 12 wickets in five Tests in Australia at 72.41.

He was appreciative of the Australians recognising him and Jayasuriya.

"It's going to be the last tour for me, I won't be able to come any more to Australia, so it was a good honour," he said.

"We have been involved in the game for the last 17 years, Sanath for almost 20 years."

The 38-year-old Jayasuriya, who struggled to have his usual impact with the bat in the tri-series, said he would have fond memories of Australia.

"This is my last tour to Australia and I've enjoyed my cricket in Australia," he said.

"I'm disappointed only that we couldn't make the finals."

Despite a generally poor series, Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene was pleased his side finished the tour with a win.

"It has been a disappointing tournament, but the way we finished today showed a lot of character and we can take a lot of positives out of this game," he said.

"We had a lot of opportunities but we didn't take those opportunities and we can learn from that."

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