Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jayasuriya voted Sri Lanka’s best ever captain

Sanath Jayasuriya has been voted Sri Lanka’s best captain in a recent online poll by leading cricket website Cricinfo.Jayasuriya polled 31% of the popular vote, just ahead of current captain Mahela Jayawardene who secured 30%.

Marvan Atapattu, Jayawardene’s recently retired predecessor, was also rated highly with 19% of the vote.

World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga was backed by 14% of users and 5% thought Aravinda de Silva was Sri Lanka’s best captain.

Jayasuriya led Sri Lanka between 1999 and 2003, leading Sri Lanka to a record 10-game winning sequence in Test cricket in 2001 and 2002.

The Cricinfo survey took place in June with 40,433 Sri Lanka fans participating.

Statistically speaking, Jayawardene is Sri Lanka’s most successful captain with a 62% win ratio in One-Day Internationals.

Jayasuriya had a 58% win ratio, Atapattu 56% and Ranatunga 48%.

Jayawardene is also the most successful captain in Test cricket with an impressive 52% win ratio.

Jayasuriya won 47% of the Tests he captained, Atapattu 44% and Ranatunga 21%.

Cricinfo is the world’s leading cricket website accessed by over 15 million cricket fans worldwide.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

May Master Blaster Sanath continue to whack our blues out of sight

Sanath Jayasuriya is riding high once again in the shorter version of the game of cricket. In the IPL (Indian Premier League) series, he stole the limelight, and in the Asian Cup 2008, he propelled Sri Lanka to victory.

What a treat it is to watch Sanath in full cry! How he clobbers the ball! Is it a bludgeon or a battering ram he wields, one wonders! Age has not dimmed his eye, nor dulled his natural force. He plays as if he detests singles, twos and threes –mostly fours and sixes flow from his bat.

The last three tons he scored – one in the IPL series, and two in the Asia Cup 2008 – were explosive, super-charged – an attacking batting display that only Sanath could give.

Vintage Sanath, Icon of Sri Lankan Cricket, Master Blaster of the 1996 World Cup – these were just a few of the glowing epithets showered on this man by TV commentators covering these matches.

Where are his detractors, those who wrote him off as “over the hill”? Shame to those who sidelined him. I take my hat off to the Minister of Sports for backing Sanath. Indeed, he has silenced those critics of his who wrote copiously endorsing his exit. To mix metaphors, Sanath has demonstrated that the willow in his hand is mightier than the pen of his critics.

One would have to say: There’s a lot of cricket still in this man. May Sanath continue in the game for a few more years, so that, come what may, as entertainer par excellence, he will chase away the gloom that hangs around us in these difficult times, even if it is for only a little while.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

There is more to Sanath Jayasuriya than brute strength

CHARMED RETURN - Sanath Jayasuriya in IPL

I must admit that some good came out of the Indian Premier League after all — the great Sri Lankan batsman, Sanath Jayasuriya, withdrew his retirement from international cricket.
It was on Indian soil, during the 1996 World Cup, that Jayasuriya gave notice of his extraordinary talents. The innings with which he made his mark was played at the Ferozeshah Kotla, the ground where Vivian Richards and Kapil Dev (among others) also first displayed to the world their prodigious powers with the bat. In this match, India, batting first, had scored 271, a total that, at that time, was regarded as well-nigh unsurpassable. But the then-unknown left-hander had other ideas. Opening the batting, he scored 79 at better than a run a ball, taking his side to a comfortable win. So demoralized were the Indian bowlers that towards the end, Manoj Prabhakar was reduced to bowling off breaks.
I did not see that innings, but heard of it from friends, and also read about it in the newspapers. It was then conventional wisdom that the batting side in a one-day match paced its innings. The new ball had to be safely negotiated, a good start had to be consolidated — only then was one supposed to convert ones into twos or fours into sixes. But in that innings in New Delhi, Sanath Jayasuriya had turned this logic upside down.
One expects innovators, in cricket or otherwise, to be young and inexperienced, and hence reckless and brave (could Steve Jobs have invented the Apple Macintosh had he been the wrong side of thirty?). The odd thing about Jayasuriya was that he had already spent six years as an international player. Born in a poor family from Matara, he had moved a hundred miles up the coast to the capital of Sri Lanka, and of Sri Lankan cricket. To help him save money, Arjuna Ranatunga gave him a room in his house in Colombo. For several years thereafter, Jayasuriya was considered one of the coming cricketers of Sri Lanka. And for those several years he never came.
After hearing about what he did at the Kotla, I stoked my memory, and remembered watching him play a Test in my home town, Bangalore, a year or two previously. The indispensable guide to world cricket, the website Cricinfo, informs me that the Test was played in the last week of January 1994, that India won by an innings, and that one S.T. Jayasuriya scored 22 and 1, and bowled a few overs without taking a wicket.
Except for inhabiting the same physical form, and carrying the same name, the S.T. Jayasuriya who played in Bangalore in 1994 was not the man who played in New Delhi in 1996. In his first few years in international cricket, he was known as a bits-and-pieces player, who bowled slow left-arm spin restrictively if not penetratingly, who batted in the lower middle order, and fielded well wherever he was placed. But that single innings changed him forever. The image makeover, we later learnt, was the handiwork of the Sri Lankan coach, Dav Whatmore, who, seeing something no one else had seen before, decided to push him up the order, from number seven to number one, while instructing him to trust his reflexes and to disregard the bowler’s reputation.
The first time I can properly recall seeing Jayasuriya bat was at the Oval in 1998. England won the toss, and plodded through the better part of two days to post a total of 445. As the last wicket fell, I heard the commentator, Bob Willis, say that “surely England can’t lose from here”. But the little islanders had other ideas. By the next evening, one of them had scored half of England’s total on his own. Watching on television, I was deeply impressed by how crisp and clean his strokes were — particularly through the off-side. The fast bowlers were hit behind point, between point and cover, and between cover and mid-off. In six sparkling hours at the crease, Jayasuriya scored (as Cricinfo now confirms for me), 213 runs in 276 balls, with 33 fours and one six. Sri Lanka exceeded England’s total by 146 runs, a margin ample enough for Mutthiah Muralidharan to make Bob Willis publicly eat his words. When Murali spun out nine Englishmen in the second innings (to add to the seven wickets he had taken in the first), his side were left with 30-odd to win, and hours to get them in. Appropriately, it was Jayasuriya who hit the winning runs. As they were made, I heard Willis say, “Surely Sri Lanka will be allotted more than one Test on their next tour of England.”
In that contest, I was naturally on Sri Lanka’s side. But in later years, as I watched Jayasuriya carve a swathe through the Indian bowling, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I could not but admire the ingenuity of his strokeplay. In Tests, he played from the crease and mostly along the ground. But in the shorter form of the game, he would advance down the wicket and carve the ball over cover and into the crowd. For variation, he would flick the ball over square leg, also for six. All this I admired; what I liked less was who the fours and sixes were being hit off. I speak here of the years 1998-2001, when India — for the first time since Nissar and Amar Singh in the Thirties — had an opening attack that was less than non-violent. Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad were both very fine new-ball bowlers, who moved the ball both ways and at a brisk pace. Both were also decent human beings. And they both came from my hometown. That it was these two good men and skilled bowlers who were being given the cricketing equivalent of corporal punishment meant that my admiration for their disciplinarian was always qualified.
In those days, I defined a nightmare as what happened to Srinath or Prasad if, in the course of a night’s sleep, the person or bat of S.T. Jayasuriya was to appear to them in a dream. Srinath probably sleeps very peacably nowadays. So did Prasad, until the IPL provoked Jayasuriya to revoke his retirement and seek some more chances to take on the Indians. Now he would do to Venky’s wards what he once did to the good man himself. In that match-winning innings in the Asia Cup, he was especially severe on the Indian seam bowlers, hitting them into the crowd with the same ease as he had once hit their far-more-talented predecessors.
Anyone who watched Jayasuriya’s last innings would know that there is more to the man than brute strength. He knows how to conserve his energy, how to pace an innings, and, above all, how to place his side’s interests first. That day in Karachi, after taking 26 runs off a single R.P. Singh over, he settled down to ones and twos. Four wickets were down already, and the last recognized batsman was at the crease with him. Once the momentum had shifted away from India, he would not allow a careless mistake to let it shift back again.
During the IPL tournament, the press made some play about a century Jayasuriya was alleged to have hit for the Mumbai Indians. I say ‘alleged’, for with fifty-yard boundaries in place, half his sixes were actually mishits, which in proper cricket would have been claimed as catches. One can be certain that when Jayasuriya’s memoirs are ghost-written, that ‘century’ in Mumbai will go unmentioned. But there will be, by way of compensation, several pages on the magnificent, authentic hundred he hit against India in the final of the 2008 Asia Cup.

Jayasuriya Test career now for record books

Jul 17, 2008
Colombo: There was a thought that after his Asia Cup performances in Pakistan, Sanath Jayasuriya's Test career still had legs to run. Not so, say informed sources.
Also, Jayasuriya's own comments were that his Test career was one ready for the record books and that there was no more space left for him in the runs column.
While his teammates were going through a serious practice session at the Sinhalese Sports Club nets here, Jayasuriya was in the gym at Sri Lanka Cricket offices and doing a fitness workout. He is keen to remain fit for the five limited overs matches that follow the three-match Test series starting on Wednesday.
There was a feeling in Colombo during the week and the build-up to the first Test that the selectors may be persuaded to do a team evaluation and do some "arm twisting". But the 39-year-old has his mind set on a new career — as a commentator — and that would open up a new chapter in the Matara Mauler's career.
Whether the India series will be his last ODI is a question only he can answer, but the feeling is that his career as a player will start winding down within the next few months.
Whether there will be the motivation to continue playing against teams such at Zimbabwe is another matter.
Paul Farbrace, Sri Lanka's assistant coach, on Thursday said that Jayasuriya, even for his age, worked hardest in the nets, along with Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene, Chaminda Vaas and Kumar Sangakkara.
They are the country's big five and with his experience, Jayasuriya brings a lot of value to the side. But rather than clutter up the nets before the Test series, he is concentrating on his fitness

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sanath Jayasuriya : "Rolling stone "

It surprised many that 39-year-old Sanath Jayasuriya was the third highest paid cricketer after Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Andrew Symonds in the Indian Premier League (IPL). The Sachin Tendulkar-led Mumbai Indians purchased the Matara Marauder for $975,000 during the players' auction and it is said Tendulkar valued Jayasuriya’s presence in the team. Tendulkar knows Jayasuriya’s worth. The Sri Lankan master blaster was one of the prime players for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL. Jayasuriya, too, has great admiration for Tendulkar. “I found that even after being in the game for such a long time, I still had a lot to learn by talking to Sachin. His cricketing knowledge is amazing.” The message is simple: cricket is not just a young man’s game. And like in the IPL, Jayasuriya showed this in the Asia Cup final by bulldozing his way to what proved to be a match-winning century. The Lankan left-hander smashed the Indian attack, blasting 125 off 114 deliveries to play one of the most striking innings of the tournament. The ‘old man’ put many youngsters to shame and, with that innings, also served a message to the Sri Lankan selectors. The fact is that Jayasuriya, after his poor form in Australia, was initially not a part of his country’s Asia Cup team The veteran batsman was obviously not amused. “Every cricketer goes through bad patches. It is hard no doubt, but one has to try and perform well in the middle,” he said. “When you go on a tour, you have to make sure you keep performing. If you don’t, they (critics) will start talking again.” While in Hyderabad for the match against Deccan Chargers, Jayasuriya had said: “I love playing for my country. Initial reports said that I was not in the team, but now that I have been included in the squad for the Asia Cup. I will see how it goes. Performing is important.” Those were the words of an unhappy Jayasuriya, who thought the selectors were not being fair to him. He was aware that one bad performance in the Asia Cup could cost him his place in the team forever. He is not getting younger and the Sri Lankan selectors are seemingly waiting for an opportunity to axe him. In this context, the IPL came as a blessing in disguise. During that tournament, he showed that he was as capable as ever of blasting the bowlers. His hand-eye coordination was very much evident as he cut, pulled and drove in his inimitable style. Jayasuriya did not mince words when people questioned his fitness, “I work hard on physical fitness. I am keen to perform at this level,” he said, adding that those over 30-plus needed to work extra hard on their fitness.” Jayasuriya has not lost his hunger for success. “There is a lot of time to go before the next World Cup, so I can’t say anything about playing in that tournament.” Jayasuriya will be 40 by the time the World Twenty20 is held in England next year. Sri Lanka will no doubt be tempted to play him, not least because form is temporary, class is permanent.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Column by Sanath Jayasuriya : Ajantha bowled quite brilliantly

Not everything went entirely to plan with our early hiccups, but in the end it worked out brilliantly for Sri Lanka and we were all thrilled to have retained the Asia Cup. The lion's share of the credit should go to Ajantha Mendis, our new spinning star, who bowled quite brilliantly.

When we found out that India had added a seventh batsman, we knew they would field first if they won the toss. That suited us perfectly as our intention was always to bat, as we did throughout the tournament.

Chasing in a final is never easy, especially if you have two spinners like Murali and Ajantha. I assume, however, that Mahendra Singh Dhoni had greater confidence in his batsmen and wanted them to shoulder the responsibility of handling the pressure.

Nevertheless, we could have started any worse. We were very unlucky to lose Sanga so early on and it was a big blow – for me as his partner, and for the team. He has been the solid rock on which we normally build our totals and that put us under pressure.

When we started losing wickets steadily, things got worse. However, with the score 66 for 4 with Dilshan walking into bat, I knew I must continue attacking. I did not want to change my natural game and felt we had to capitalise on the PowerPlays or risk falling well-short of a good total.

Fortunately, Dilshan played really well and we were able to wrestle back some of the initiative. After the PowerPlays, we reduced our risk-taking and concentrated on batting out the overs. If we did that, we knew we should get to 270 plus.

n the end, we might have got even 300 but we were confident that 270 was defendable. The key was taking a few wickets in the first 10-15 overs. Only wicket-taking would give us a chance to control India's dangerous batting line-up.

A few more overs of Sehwag and the result could have been very different. But Mahela (Jayawardene) took the brave decision of bringing Ajantha into the attack in just the 10th over and the rest is now history. His performance will linger long in the memory.

Ajantha may not spin the ball a huge amount, but he still has a lot of variety. What's more, there was not a single loose delivery on offer. His length was immaculate, leaving the Indian batsmen, who clearly could not read him, in two minds as to whether to go forward or backwards.

The prospect of him forming a partnership with Murali for the next couple of years is very exciting for Sri Lanka. The next test could be the three-match Test series with India. I am sure he will be in the squad and there is every chance he'll make his debut

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Selectors ask Sanath Jayasuriya to resume his Test career ?

Colombo: As they do a careful stocktaking exercise after their successful Asia Cup defence, Sri Lanka's selectors may want to do a rethink and ask Sanath Jayasuriya to resume his Test career.

It is just a thought after the victory by 100 runs over India in the final at the Karachi National Stadium on Sunday. After all, there is a Test series looming with India in Sri Lanka later this month and the way Jayasuriya, aka the Matara Mauler, executed his 27th limited overs century, explains much about his dazzling talents.

While all the media hype is currently about so-called finger spinner Ajantha Mendis and how he won the match with his six wickets, it should be remembered that Sri Lanka need a total to defend.

With an innings sagging at 66-4 and the previous two batsmen harassed by Indian bowling and fielding tactics, it needed experience and above all a careful batting strategy to get the innings back in motion. After all, he has been in this position before and has squeezed a defendable total out of a wasteland caused by carelessness.

Those who have watched Jayasuriya for more than a decade can tell the signs. When he takes a look around the field and gives that boyish grin, beware. The bowlers are in trouble as it is time for the big carve up.

Maybe now, after this expressive example of his batting talents in Karachi, the talk of how at the age of 39 he is perhaps beyond the shelf-life of an international star. They forget that here is a man who eight years ago almost scored a century before lunch on the opening day of a Test in Galle.

He was robbed of that impressive rare record, as it were, because the Matara Mauler and Marvan Atapattu, his opening partner, were unaware of records. The point here is whether he is 31 or 39, his ability to carve out an innings that creates pressure on the bowlers is where Sri Lanka are still in need of him.

In Karachi he scored 125 of 114 balls – the first 50 was off 43 balls and the second to reach the century in just 36 balls. And the way he handled RP Singh is something the bowler needs to remember. You cannot bowl width to the Matara Mauler.

Srilanka's President Rajapaksa congratulates cricket team for Asia Cup win

Colombo (PTI): Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday lavished praise on young spinner Ajantha Mendis and veteran Sanath Jayasuriya while hailing the cricket team's Asia Cup win in Pakistan.

In a congratulatory message to captain Mahela Jayawardene, Rajapakse lauded the team's performance against India in Sunday night's final in Karachi and retaining the title.

He observed that excellent team spirit, sportsmanship and fighting qualities were the key to their success and to bring glory to the country.

"By winning the Asia Cup for the fourth time you have proved that Sri Lanka remains a formidable force in cricket," Rajapaksa said.

"Your success is an encouragement to all our sportsmen and sportswomen, and I wish you all success in the forthcoming series against India in Sri Lanka, and other important tournaments that lie ahead," he said.

"I also send my special good wishes to young Ajantha Mendis for his magnificent bowling performance and to Sanath Jayasuriya for his continued achievements in batting, both of which helped steer Sri Lanka to this outstanding victory," he added.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf also congratulated the Sri Lankan team on their achievement and praised the Asian Cricket Coucil for organising an excellent tournament that helped foster goodwill in the region.

Mahela praises Sanath and Ajantha’s performances

Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardena showered praise on Sanath Jayasuriya and Ajantha Mendis for playing a sterling role to help the team win the six nation ACC Asia Cup tournament for a fourth time.

Jayawardena noted that Jayasuriya’s brilliant knock of 125 was probably the turning point although Mendis sealed the game with career best figures of six wickets for 13 runs from eight overs. As a result India were shot out for just 173 runs while chasing Sri Lanka’s formidable total of 273 runs under lights at the National Stadium in Karachi.

The Sri Lankan captain paid tribute to veteran Jayasuriya who was playing in his record 25th Asia Cup match after having celebrated his 39th birthday last Monday. Jayawardena said that this was one of the best innings he had seen from Jayasuriya who went on to complete his sixth Asia Cup century and the 27th one day international century.

Jayawardena further said that this was a very special innings from the dashing left hander who was not willing to throw his wicket away but was determined to play a responsible innings.

The Sri Lankan captain said that Jayasuriya’s occupation at the crease during this stage was crucial because they had lost four wickets before the 12th over of the innings. He said that they were confident of defending their total of 273 runs although he felt they were still 20 to 30 runs short of their real target.

The Lankan captain said that had Tillekeratne Dilshan batted until the end they could have easily got pass the three hundred run mark.

Jayawardena said that they were well aware that India were short of one bowler in their line up and they fully exploited this by collecting some valuable runs during the last few overs of the innings.

In contrast Sri Lanka went in with five specialist bowlers for the final and this turned out to be a vital factor at the end.

The Sri Lankan captain noted that they had to pick up wickets at regular intervals and Mendis did exactly that after Indian openers had made another solid start. India of course won the earlier confrontation against Sri Lanka by six wickets while chasing a total of 308 runs.

But he noted that the final was altogether a completely different contest and the pressure was always on the side batting second. He said that they would have anyway batted first in the final and the toss did not make any impact on the final outcome.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A veteran steals the show

India v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup final, Karachi

Sri Lanka equalled India's mark of four Asia Cup wins with their 100-run triumph in the final in Karachi. Here are a few statistical highlights from the game.

Sanath Jayasuriya's innings of 125 off 114 balls is the highest in an Asia Cup final, and came in his 25th appearance in the tournament, the most by any player.

Jayasuriya finished the tournament as the leading run-getter; his total of 378 runs is the most for an edition of the Asia Cup. He remains the highest run-scorer in the Asia Cup, with 1220 runs at an average of 53.04.

This was Jayasuriya's second hundred in tournament finals; in all, he has scored 1577 runs at an average of 43.80 and strike-rate of 97.88, of which 1160 have come in 20 wins, with an average of 61.05 and strike-rate of nearly 100. Both his hundreds have come in finals against India.

His hundred was only the second in a tournament final in Pakistan; the first was Aravinda de Silva's match-winning 107 not out in the 1996 World Cup final.

Jayasuriya held the record for most sixes in tournament finals, and with his nine fours in this innings, he went past Sachin Tendulkar's mark of 167 fours in finals.

Sri Lanka were struggling at 66 for 4 at one stage, but the fifth-wicket partnership between Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan pushed them towards a respectable total. The 131-run stand was the second-best for the fifth wicket in the Asia Cup.

Jayasuriya enjoyed batting against the fast bowlers, but slowed down against the spinners, and was dismissed by Virender Sehwag. He scored 88 off 60 balls off the fast bowlers, but was pegged back by the spinners, managing just 37 off 54. His fifty came off 43 balls, and he then took 26 off an over from RP Singh to move to 87 off 58. He needed a further 21 balls to reach his hundred, and his final 25 runs came off 35 deliveries.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Sanath Jayasuriya - The old hand shows how it's done

The subcontinent has generally had the problem, almost impossible to prove but privately acknowledged, of over-aged players in age-group cricket. Conversely, it allows players to stay on beyond their sell-by date. On Sunday, at the National Stadium in Karachi, Sanath Jayasuriya - 39 years and six days old - turned both concepts on their head as he plundered 125 off 114 balls.

How is it that Jayasuriya can play the young man's game at 39? Especially since his game relies on instinct and hand-eye co-ordination? How is it that he is still, on his day, the most dangerous batsman in the word?

A great knock is one that can be seen independent of the situation, irrespective of the result, yet is inextricably linked to the team cause. Sometimes the greatness of an innings lies in how effortless it looks alongside others in the same contest. Today, Jayasuriya satisfied all these criteria.

Today he was cold-blooded rather than audacious, his innings built more on mental strength than the usual brute force. India, with Ishant Sharma in particular bowling superbly, had reason to congratulate themselves as they held Sri Lanka down to 67 for 4. They would have expected Sri Lanka to go through a quiet period of rebuilding, and hoped to get through the overs with their part-time bowlers. That is when Jayasuriya, then on 42, transcended the situation to launch a planned assault.

Just before Ishant took two wickets in an over, Jayasuriya welcomed Irfan Pathan with three boundaries in four balls. In Irfan's next, he showed some restraint, suggesting he may even take the conventional approach. In the following over, Ishant bowled him a short, rising delivery that had got him three wickets so far. This was an effort ball, quicker than he had bowled earlier, but Jayasuriya pulled it way over the square-leg boundary as if to say that's how it's done fashion.

Ishant was replaced by RP Singh, who had managed a maiden over in his first spell, and his effort wasn't a bad one. He was simply caught in the headlights and didn't know what to do. Fielders were moved helter-skelter, conferences were held, RP tried different things, and yet the ball was repeatedly hit where the fielders weren't present. Twenty-six breathtaking runs were taken, and the initiative had been wrested. At one point in the fifth-wicket partnership, Tillakaratne Dilshan had contributed only four out of the 50 runs added. In their 131-run partnership, Jayasuriya contributed 83.

Flat wicket or not, to attack in that fashion, in that situation, in a big final, needs a lot of mental strength. To slow down then would have meant a below-par total on a batsman's paradise, given especially the absence of big hitters in the Sri Lanka lower order. To get out trying to hit was not an option at all. The way he assessed the situation, decided to do what few others could, and went about executing it, stemmed from, and pointed to, his genius.

"I wasn't really surprised with the way he played," Mahela Jayawardene said. . "We have given him the freedom to go out there and play his way. That's the way he takes games away from oppositions. And on his day it will come off, if it doesn't it doesn't.

"He is in terrific form and we didn't try to stop him from what he was doing. But I think he made a conscious effort of picking his bowlers, his areas; he didn't go after everybody. That comes with experience. He was disappointed the way he got out; he wanted to bat till the end. It was a brilliant innings, and the turning point for us. I know Ajantha [Mendis] created so much, but we needed runs in the first place, and that's what Sanath did."

The innings was quite reminiscent of the final in Sharjah in 2000-01, where he scored 189. With wickets falling around him, Jayasuriya kept attacking - by the time Sri Lanka were 98 for 3, the other batsmen had contributed 27. What was missing, today, though, was the brutal assault he had unleashed eight years ago. It was something he had been setting himself up for today as well. His last 89 runs, then, had come off 43 balls, and taken Sri Lanka from 116 for 4 to 299 for 5.

India were humiliated then, bowled out for 54. Today they managed just a little better, because of the start Virender Sehwag gave them. When Sehwag went marauding the Sri Lankan opening attack, scoring 60 off 34, out of India's 68 then, it seemed Jayasuriya's effort would be overshadowed. When Mendis, the finger freak, was running through the Indian batsmen, who seemed to be groping in the dark, Jayasuriya's innings took a comfortable backseat in the mind. But Mendis, who was four when Jayasuriya made his debut, might want to thank him for the target he set.

Sri Lanka retains title by 100 runs

Sanath Jayasuriya brought back memories of his heyday with a ferocious counter-attacking century to help Sri Lanka score 273 in their Asia cup final against India here Sunday. Jayasuriya hammered a quickfire 125 off 114 balls even as Sri Lanka were losing early wickets and were placed at a precarious 66 for four after 12 overs.

Jayasuriya, 39, was in a brutal mode as he raced to his 27th one-day ton in just 79 balls with nine fours and five sixes to lift the defending champions from a seemingly tough situation.

Sri Lanka beat India by 100 runs to successfully defend its Asia Cup title Sunday with spinner Ajantha Mendis taking a record 6-13.

India, chasing 274 runs, was dismissed for 173 in 39.3 overs with Mendis often unplayable in his eight overs.

Sanath Jayasuriya had earlier smashed 125 - his 27th century in one-day internationals - after India won the toss and chose to bowl first.

Mendis' figures were the best ever in the nine Asia Cups, beating Pakistan's paceman Aqib Javed's 5-19 against India in 1995 at Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

The Indian batsmen were facing the 23-year-old Mendis for the first time in the tournament and had no answer to his masterful bowling.

Mendis came on in the 10th over after hard-hitting Virender Sehwag (60 off 36 balls) had pushed the score to 76-1.

Mendis broke through in his second delivery when Sehwag, who had hit 12 boundaries, misread a quick delivery and was stumped. An over later, Mendis clean bowled Yuvraj Singh (0) and Suresh Raina (16) with balls that skidded through the Indian lefthanders before Rohit Sharma was trapped leg before wicket off a pefect off-spinner.

Mendis returned for his second spell and claimed the wickets of Irfan Patan (2) and R.P. Singh (0) before Chaminda Vaas (2-55) ended captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's innings - caught behind for 49.

Earlier, Jayasuriya smashed 125 off 114 balls before India bowled out Sri Lanka in 49.5 overs.

Jayasuriya's innings included nine fours and five sixes. The hard-hitting opener revived Sri Lanka's innings by adding 131 runs for the fifth wicket with Tillakaratne Dilshan, who scored 56.

India hit back in the last 10 overs, conceding just 57 runs with R.P. Singh claiming 3-67.

India, which opted to bowl first, struck through its paceman Ishant Sharma (3-52) before Jayasuriya launched a counterattack.

Sharma's triple strike reduced Sri Lanka to 66-4 after 12 overs, including the key run-out for only four runs of Kumar Sangakkara, who was chasing his fourth century in the tournament.

Sharma had captain Mahela Jayawardene (11) caught at point by Rohit Sharma and then removed Chamara Kapugedera (5) and Chamara Silva (0) in his sixth over.

But Jayasuriya felt little pressure from the wickets falling around him and hit paceman Singh for 26 runs in one over with three sixes and two boundaries.

Jayasuriya went on to complete his first century against India in the last four years off 79 balls.

With 27 centuries, Jayasuriya is now the second century-maker in one-day internationals behind India's Sachin Tendulkar, who has 42 centuries.

India came back strongly when it removed both Jayasuriya and Dilshan in the space of 21 deliveries. Ishant Sharma took a well judged catch at deep midwicket as Jayasuriya failed to keep down his sweep shot from part-time off-spinner Virender Sehwag.

Dilshan mistimed a pull shot off left-arm paceman Pathan and skied an easy catch to Dhoni behind the wickets after hitting three boundaries in his 74-ball knock. Parthan finished with 2-67.

Ajantha and Sanath help Sri Lanka clinch Asia Cup

Sri Lanka’s new spin sensation Ajantha Mendis grabbed a six wicket haul after Sanath Jayasuriya had hammered a brilliant century as Sri Lanka clinched the Asia Cup for the fourth time defeating India by 100 runs in the six nation tournament final worked off under lights at the National Stadium in Karachi on Sunday.

Mendis playing in his first Asia Cup final returned career best figures of six wickets for 13 runs as India were dismissed for 173 runs in the 40th over while chasing Sri Lanka’s formidable total of 273. Sri Lanka’s success in this ninth edition of the Asia Cup had a great amount of significance because this was the first time they had won the title while performing away from home.

Mendis came into bowl at a vital stage of the innings when the Indian openers Virender Sehwag and Gautham Gambhir had given their side another solid start during their run chase. Although Gambhir fell in the fifth over his partner Sehwag continued to punish the Sri Lankan attack reaching his fifty from just 26 balls with ten fours.

However Mendis struck twice in his first over removing Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh and soon the game took a dramatic change from there onwards with Sri Lanka beginning to take control of the situation.

Mendis finished his first spell with remarkable figures of four wickets for eight runs from four overs after adding the wickets of Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma. Mendis came back into the attack in the 30th over and picked up two wickets in successive deliveries to seal the game in Sri Lanka’s favour.

This was also the best bowling figures ever in an innings in the Asia Cup tournament. Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni offered the only resistance with a stubborn knock of 49 from 74 deliveries with four boundaries.

This was after veteran Sanath Jayasuriya had struck a mastery century as Sri Lanka piled up 273 runs after been put into bat. The dashing left hander playing in his record 25th Asia Cup match hammered an astonishing 125 runs which was also his second in the competition and his sixth overall in the Asia Cup history before Sri Lanka folded up in the last over.

Jayasuriya who celebrated his 39th birthday recently also pushed Australian captain Riky Ponting into the third place in the most number of centuries in one day internationals while scoring his 27th hundred in his 416th match.

Even then this was a controlled innings from Jayasuriya who quite surprisingly decided to play the sheet anchor role after Sri Lanka had lost four wickets within the first 12 overs of the innings. Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhonis decision to bowl first after winning the toss certainly paid dividends as paceman Ishant Sharma picked up three key wickets during a hostile opening spell.

However Jayasuriya had the situation well under control as he took the fight into the Indian bowlers with a combination of power and science. He first showed signs of aggression when he collected 15 runs off Irfan Pathans first over including three successive boundaries.

Jayasuriya raced to his 66th one day international half century by hoisting his second six off Ishant Sharma over the mid wicket boundary. His knock also included half a dozen of boundaries and came from just 43 deliveries.

Jayasuriya delivered another severe blow on paceman R. P. Singh while taking 26 runs from one over which included three sixes and two fours.

This was a tremendous effort considering the fact that wickets had fallen at regular intervals from the other end. Jayasuriya found a reliable partner in Tillekeratne Dilshan and the pair pulled their side from a near total collapse into a strong position while putting on 131 runs for the fifth wicket.

They fell shot by just two runs from erasing the previous fifth wicket stand of 133 runs in the Asia Cup tournament set by the Indian combination of Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh against Sri Lanka at the Dambulla Stadium in 2004.

Jayasuriya’s dominance in this partnership was so much that Tillekeratne’s contribution was only four runs during their first 50 runs. This was the stage where Jayasuriya really cut loose before reaching his 27th one day international century from 79 deliveries with the aid of five sixes and nine boundaries.

Dilshan meanwhile brought an end to a series of low scores by stroking his first fifty in five innings when his team needed him most. The right hander rose to the occasion by contributing a 56 runs from 68 balls with three boundaries

Sanath Jayasuriya’s knock props up Sri Lanka

Karachi: Right from the first ball that he tucked to square-leg for a brace, Sanath Jayasuriya existed on a different pitch while the other batsmen, with the exception of Dilshan, seemed ill at ease.

It was like watching an Indiana Jones series interpolated with bits from a tear-jerker but with Jayasuriya mixing power and placement, Sri Lanka had compelling reasons to believe in hope and rebirth.

Jayasuriya’s 125, his 27th ODI century, and his 131-run fifth-wicket partnership with T.M. Dilshan revived an innings that was tottering at 66 for four in 12 overs and helped Sri Lanka score 273 in 49.5 overs against India in the STAR Cricket Asia Cup final at the National Stadium here on Sunday.

Dhoni’s surprise

After both camps stressed on batting first on winning the toss, M.S. Dhoni threw in a surprise by inviting Sri Lanka to take first strike.

Dhoni also beefed up his batting line-up with Robin Uthappa. A run-rich tournament might have egged on Dhoni to bolster the team’s batting depth as well as opt for the chase.

After the first over bowled by R.P. Singh went for 11 runs and a premonition of yet another day of tall scores was settling amidst the crowd that consisted of about 10,000 ‘free ticket’ holders, Ishant’s next over led to a collective intake of breath as the Indians celebrated Kumar Sangakkara’s dismissal.

Jayasuriya tapped Ishant straight to Suresh Raina, Sangakkara charged from the non-striker’s end, and it was all over.

Ishant strikes

Skipper Mahela Jayawardene had four fielders in his gaze on the off-side and failed to keep his cut grounded. Ishant struck again as Kapugedera, while trying to force one to the on-side, suffered a leading edge. Two deliveries later, Ishant had Chamara Silva chopping one onto his stumps.

Jayasuriya (125, 114b, 9x4, 5x6), meanwhile, rocked back to cut and pull both Ishant and Irfan Pathan and later pummelled R.P. Singh for 26 in an over that smacked of sheer disdain from the Matara man.

The ease with which he flexed his forearms and swivelled his legs to generate power belied his 39 summers. And in Dilshan (56), Jayasuriya found sustenance.

Dilshan creamed an errant Irfan for three fours in an over and then reverted to playing second fiddle while Jayasuriya ruled.


Jayasuriya glanced Sehwag to short fine-leg for the single that got his hundred and jumped with the delight of a child who sighted chocolate on the dinner table. The southpaw fell with a slog-sweep but it was a supreme innings though the lone discomfort was when Ishant got one to dart past his rib-cage early in the innings.

Dilshan also succumbed and the rest added 60 runs to a total that though lacking in awe can still test Dhoni’s men later in the night. For the Indians, Ishant bowled a good first spell, Pragyan Ojha was steady, but Irfan frittered away, gifting width and got punished.

Jayasuriya's batting , Mendis spins Sri Lanka to title triumph

Eight years ago, in Sharjah, Sanath Jayasuriya scored a magnificent 189 before Sri Lanka's bowlers sent India tumbling to 54 all out, and a humiliating 245-run defeat. At Karachi's National Stadium, Jayasuriya, now 39, smashed another superb century before Ajantha Mendis, the mystery spinner still classed as a slow-medium bowler, bamboozled a highly rated batting line-up to finish with astonishing figures of 6 for 13.

Virender Sehwag's blistering early onslaught was rendered irrelevant as Sri Lanka stormed to a 100-run victory, retaining the Asia Cup and extending India's miserable record in tournament finals.

With Sehwag hammering an exhilarating 60 from just 35 balls, India had romped to 76 from just nine overs. Muttiah Muralitharan prefers not to bowl during the Powerplays, and it was to Mendis, who the Indians had never faced before, that Mahela Jayawardene turned as he sought to staunch the flow of runs.

Even he couldn't have predicted the impact that Mendis would have. Like a combine harvester scything through a field of corn, Mendis sliced through a line-up that has quite a reputation when it comes to playing spin. Sehwag charged his second delivery and watched helplessly as it drifted away from him. Kumar Sangakkara did the rest. Two balls later, Yuvraj Singh was utterly befuddled by one that skidded on. Suddenly, 274 appeared a long way away.

That Sri Lanka got anywhere near that was down to a man who refuses to bow to Father Time. India picked up four wickets in the first 12 overs, with Ishant claiming three of them, but Jayasuriya's 114-ball 125, and a 131-run partnership with Tillakaratne Dilshan utterly changed the complexion of the game.

It's perhaps no coincidence that India haven't won the Asia Cup since Jayasuriya became a regular at the top of the Sri Lankan order, and his mastery over the opposition was best revealed in the 16th over, bowled by RP Singh. RP had managed to escape relatively unscathed in his opening spell, conceding 24 from five overs, but when he returned, Jayasuriya took to him like a bull that had been riled by the matador's cape.

Sixes on either side of the sightscreen were followed by two wallops over cover, and after a one-ball lull, he pulled one over midwicket for six more. With Dilshan then taking three successive fours off Irfan Pathan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni had no option but to turn to spin, with Pragyan Ojha and Sehwag managing to have something of a fire-extinguishing effect.

India had started poorly, with RP conceding two boundaries to fine leg in the opening over, but a mix-up between two experienced hands gave them the opening they so desperately needed. Jayasuriya tapped one to short mid-off, and Sangakkara had already hared halfway down the pitch before he realised the striker had no interest in a single. Suresh Raina's underarm flick was the ultimate punishment.

But with two maiden overs bowled in the first five, India wrested back a measure of control, despite Jayasuriya's sporadic bursts of aggression. With the pressure building, it was Ishant who struck, as Jayawardene slapped one straight to Rohit at point. No bother for Jayasuriya though. A swivel pull sent an Ishant delivery for six, and Pathan's introduction was greeted with three fours in the over.

The problem was at the other end, where Ishant was wreaking havoc with the extra bounce he extracted from a comatose pitch. Bounce and a hint of lateral movement had Chamara Kapugedera playing one off the leading edge to point, and two balls later, the other Chamara - Silva - inside-edged one back on to the stumps.

Jayasuriya's version of consolidation involved a pull for six off Ishant and a slice of luck as a as a miscue off Pathan evaded RP, who ran around in circles and failed to get his hands to the ball. Dilshan contributed only four to the first 50 the pair added, from 30 balls, but he did his part, turning the strike over to allow Jayasuriya to inflict maximum damage.

With Sehwag and Ojha - Rohit contributed three tidy overs too - taking the pace off the ball, it was a different story. With the field spread, the boundaries dried up and the runs came mainly in singles. India missed a couple of run-out opportunities and Dhoni put down a sharp chance offered by Dilshan when he was on 37, but the helter-skelter pace of the Powerplay overs soon gave way to relative calm.

Eventually, the lack of action got to Jayasuriya and a flat slog-sweep off Sehwag only found Ishant at deep midwicket. After that, Sri Lanka lost their way. Dilshan eased to 50 from 68 balls, but when Pathan returned to bowl round the wicket, he popped a catch to Dhoni. Vaas, back in the fray after missing the last game, square-drove Ishant for the first four in more than 20 overs, but was castled by RP soon after.

Nuwan Kulasekara flailed the bat to finish with an unbeaten 29, but a target of 274 was expected to be well within reach for an Indian side that had included seven specialist batsmen. But after his extraordinary first over, Mendis soon set about making a mockery of the predictions.

Raina had been fortunate to survive a vociferous leg-before shout before he decided to play the worst shot of the evening, an ugly pull to a delivery that pitched on middle stump. Rohit soon followed, struck on the back pad by one that deviated away a touch, and by the time Jayawardene decided to take him out of the attack, Mendis had stunning figures of 4 for 8.

No one including the umpires knew quite what to expect, and the batsmen appeared unsure whether to play him as a slow bowler or a medium-pace one. That indecision was to prove fatal, especially against the carrom ball that was being propelled by a flick of the middle finger. As eye-catching was his accuracy. There was no width for the batsmen to work with, and hardly a loose delivery. Only Dhoni, who played the ball as late as he possibly could, showed any signs of coming to grips with him.

With Mendis casting such a spell, Murali's introduction went almost unnoticed, but with him in parsimonious mood, the tourniquet was tightening around India. Robin Uthappa and Dhoni added 38 in attritional fashion before Murali struck from round the wicket. Uthappa missed a flick, and the appeal from the bowler was just a formality.

Jayawardene waited a while longer and then brought back Mendis for the 30th over. India somehow survived that, but the game was up in his next. Pathan's attempt to flick through the leg side ended up at slip, and RP walked off bemused after one deviated away to take off stump. He should have had the hat-trick too, only Simon Taufel was as perplexed by a ball that pitched in line as Ojha was.

Dhoni had watched it all from the other end, defending stoutly and striking the odd four when he could. But once he inside-edged Chaminda Vaas to the keeper, the Sri Lankan dressing room readied for the celebrations. When Kulasekara cleaned up Ishant with 63 balls still to be bowled, they could begin in earnest. The combination of the six-hitting veteran and the six-wicket carrom-ball spinner had been far too much for India to handle

Friday, July 04, 2008

Jayasuriya – Cricket’s Ol’ man River

"Ol' man river,
Dat ol' man river
He mus' know sumpin'
But don't say nuthin',
He jes' keeps rollin'
He keeps on rollin' along"

A decade ago, he was the most feared batsman in the one-day game, intimidating bowlers even as he walked jauntily to the crease.

Not much has changed since then.

Adam Gilchrist who succeeded him to the title has come and gone and Shahid Afridi another claimant to the throne is going through a rather extended lean period. But the ever-youthful Sanath Jayasuriya, like Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein’s Ol’ man river, just goes on and on.

The tally of runs and centuries against his name keeps growing and his average and strike rate keep getting better. Not bad for someone who has entered his 40th year. In fact, only the swashbuckling left-hander could have come up with the story-book feat of getting a hundred on his 39th birthday in the Asia Cup match against Bangladesh a few days ago.

Jayasuriya made his ODI debut in December 1989 just a few days after Sachin Tendulkar played his first game in the shorter version. Today, he is well past the 400-ODI mark.

In fact, he was the first to play 400 ODIs and he has since been joined by Tendulkar.

He has retired from Test cricket, but there is no indication that he will be quitting the limited-overs scene in the immediate future. Why should there be any such talk when he is batting as fluently as ever. Why, only last year, he played in the Twenty20 World Cup and enjoyed himself, particularly, while hitting 88 off 44 balls against Kenya and followed this up with 61 off 44 balls against a much stronger New Zealand attack.

The secret behind Jayasuriya’s successful career is that he enjoys the game and that he is still young at heart. That’s why even as Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Tendulkar, all a few years younger, opted out of the Twenty20 World Cup, Jayasuriya was still around to regale audiences in South Africa.

But, then of course, he has been regaling audiences all over the cricketing world for almost two decades.

With the proliferation of ODIs, it was always on the cards that a player would reach the landmark of figuring in 400 such games sooner rather than later, and it is but fitting that this honour should go first to Jayasuriya. It is a tribute to his skill, enthusiasm and fitness levels that he has lasted so long, and like good wine, he only seems to be getting better with age.

Why, his birthday century came up off only 55 balls, the sixth fastest in ODIs.

`The Matara Mauler’ has lit up one-day cricket at the highest level ever since his power-hitting at the top of the order enabled Sri Lanka to win the 1996 World Cup. In fact, at Jayasuriya’s peak, in the mid- and late-90s, his buccaneering batting emptied bars as followers of the game rushed to their seats to watch him take the bowling apart. Similiarly, cricket fans rushed to the TV sets as Jayasuriya wasted little time in hitting the new ball to all parts of the grounds

Fours and sixes flowed off his blade and I was once a happy witness to Jayasuriya and his opening partner Romesh Kaluwitharana bringing up Sri Lanka’s fifty in 3.2 overs against Kenya in the World Cup match at Kandy in 1996. He was certainly the batsman whom bowlers did not want to come up against, for it was mayhem from ball one. He intimidated bowlers like few batsmen have done, dispatching even the good balls to the fence by virtue of his extraordinary hand-eye co-ordination and super-fast reflexes complimenting his natural talent.

He has more than his fair share of notable feats in the shorter version of the game - still the fastest 50 (off 17 balls), a century off 48 balls (the fifth fastest), the highest partnership (with Upul Tharanga) of 286 for the first wicket, being the only player to complete the double of 10,000 runs and 300 wickets, the second highest individual score along with Vivian Richards (189), second behind Tendulkar in the list of run getters and century makers (26), a still impressive career strike rate of almost 91.

Remarkably, he has also been an outstanding player at the Test level - the second highest run-getter for Sri Lanka with over 7000 runs at a pretty impressive average of 40 coupled with a bag of almost 100 wickets. Till Mahela Jayawardene overtook him by scoring 374 Jayasuriya held the record for highest individual score for Sri Lanka (340 against India in 1997).

In the new millennium, as players like Adam Gilchrist, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Shahid Afridi, Andrew Symonds and Virender Sehwag have upped the career strike rate to anything between 91 and 111, Jayasuriya achieving the status of elder statesman, has stayed in the background. But he remains dizzily dangerous and no bowler or captain can take his challenge lightly.

Sri Lankan coach Trevor Bayliss has made it clear that he is in no hurry to pension Jayasuriya off despite building a team for the next World Cup being staged in Asia in 2011.

Soon after taking over last year from Tom Moody, who guided Sri Lanka to last year’s World Cup final, Bayliss sought out Jayasuriya. It was one of the first things I did, admitted Bayliss. “I asked Sanath what he intended to do and he told me that as long as he was enjoying his cricket, he would continue,” Bayliss added.

Jayasuriya seems to be doing that at the moment. And that is good news for cricket fans everywhere.

Harsha Bhogle - "Shy and mighty: At 39, there's still no stopping Sanath"

Harsha Bhogle

Posted online: Friday , July 04, 2008 at 2300 hrs IST

Sanath Jayasuriya is 39 and not yet doing all those things that cricketers look down upon while playing. He is not putting on a tie and selling real estate, searching for coaching assignments, walking into commentary boxes or indeed playing county cricket.

It’s funny how your view of the world changes once you stop playing. But Jayasuriya hasn’t stopped playing even though there are some in his country who believe he should. Instead, he is still taking attacks apart and thrilling his legion of admirers. One of them is writing this article.

He must enjoy it. That must seem a strange statement because surely everyone enjoys playing cricket. Not quite true. Often time dulls the instinct, selectors and administrators take the fun away, children tug at the heart, training becomes a chore, injuries seem to hurt a bit more and muscles take longer to recover. It is a battle most people lose by the time they are 39. And while Jayasuriya has had a few arrows aimed at him, he is still up and around, taking on young kids, sometimes closer to half his age. Yes, he must enjoy it.

I watched him closely this year when he turned up to play for the Mumbai Indians. There was still the twinkle in the eye, still the excitement of a challenge before him, the satisfaction of an innings thrillingly played; youngsters are still bowling short and wide and fetching the ball from the point boundary, they are still feeding the pick up shot that makes boundaries seem much smaller than they are. He hit a couple on the roof of the Wankhede this year and whether he plays in the IPL or for Sri Lanka, his is the wicket that is still the most sought.

Maybe that is why he is still playing, maybe there is another peak to be conquered, maybe a point to be proved, maybe just the fear of it being all over one day. But his body is holding up to the challenge, he is still turning quickly for the second and charging from point. That is the key. When the body starts complaining, it isn’t fun anymore.

Only twice in recent times have I wondered at the wisdom of continuing. In Australia he seemed to be a fraction late against Brett Lee and in the IPL, young Ishant Sharma had him bowled playing late. Against the quickest maybe the eye is a touch slow in sending signals to the brain. But those are occasional moments. In Mumbai this year the crowds wanted him to go on. “Suryaaaaaa, Surya” they chanted and he blushed shyly in the dressing room as he often does. There is little sign of the arrogance that can sometimes visit those that achieve much.

But for some reason he is putting catches down. Not the tough ones that fly by, and which he could catch, but the slow, loopy ones that he would hold ten times out of ten. Could it be the eye? Surely it couldn’t because balls are still being dispatched over point and through cover. But it is something worth pondering over.

I asked Marvan Atapattu, who is with us in our studio for the Asia Cup, how it was being non-striker when Jayasuriya was in full flow. Did he make it easier for he almost scored enough for two? Surely his partner didn’t need to worry about things like strike rates etc? Atapattu had a different point of view. He thought the pressure was on him to keep taking singles all the time since Jayasuriya was the player everyone, including him, wanted to watch. Sometimes, he said, you could almost try too hard to get a single.

So how much longer? Jayasuriya will be aware that he will be under closer scrutiny than most for the first sign of a lean patch will be interpreted as a sign of the end. But since he doesn’t have to worry about playing Test cricket, he has longer to recover, more time to work on fitness and to get the hunger back. Sometimes, when you play everyday, you don’t have time to reflect on how much you really enjoy what you are doing.

Will he celebrate his 40th on the field? I suspect he would put his money on it!

Struck form at the right time - Sanath

Man of the match Sanath Jayasuriya warned his opponents that the best of his batting is yet to come after slamming his 26th one day international century against Bangladesh in the six nation Asia Cup tournament Super Four match played under lights at the National Stadium in Karachi on Monday.

The veteran opener celebrated his 39th birthday by stroking an aggressive 130 runs as Sri Lanka went on to book a place in the final with a most comprehensive 158 run victory. Jayasuriya noted that he has struck form at the correct time after a lean period where he was struggling for runs soon after the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.

The dashing left hander has comeback with a vengeance and his outstanding performances in the high profile inaugural Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament prompted the national selectors to include him in the squad at the eleventh hour.

Jayasuriya has certainly not let down the selectors who recently gave an assurance that he could play until the 2011 World Cup in the sub continent depending on his form and fitness. The manner in which he plundered the Bangladesh bowlers gave a clear indication of his determination and the hunger for runs.

Jayasuriya who has played in 414 one day internationals said that he was keen to make a big hundred in this game after missing out a golden opportunity against the same opposition in a preliminary round match at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

Jayasuriya was rested for the match against the United Arab Emirates team but failed in the Super Four opening clash against Pakistan on Sunday. But he said that he had to make an impact somehow to gain his confidence back which he did in the most spectacular manner.

Sri Lanka will take on India in their last Asia Cup Super Four match on Thursday before the final on July 6. Jayasuriya said that the support he received at the other end from vice captain Kumar Sangakkara was excellent and that really inspired him to push for a big score.

Jayasuriya has now accumulated a total of 210 runs from his three outings and also became the first batsman to complete one thousand runs in the history of the Asia Cup tournament. His performance was even more significant considering the fact that he became the second oldest player ever to score a century in one day internationals.

Jayasuriya commended the excellent support and corporation rendered by the entire team towards his success and vowed to bring back the Asia Cup back to Sri Lanka by winning the final on July 6. KARACHI, Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

ODI Tons In 60 Deliveries Or Less

With birthday boy Sanath Jayasuriya racing to the sixth fastest ton in the history of ODI cricket on Monday, we look at his and the five other occasions blitzkrieg batsmen have smashed sub 60-delivery tons...

Responsible: Shahid Afridi
Date: 04/10/1996
Site Of The Carnage: Nairobi
Deliveries: 37
Unlucky Opposition: Sri Lanka

Barely able to sprout facial hair and very short on international experience, the then 16-year-old rookie strode into a batting order that included moustached greats like Saleem Malik, Ijaz Ahmed and Rameez Raja.

With the trio of stalwarts unable to do the job, it was Afridi who stepped up to the plate in his very first international knock. 11 hefty sixes and the obligatory half a dozen fours later, the masses present at the Gymkhana Club Ground were on their feet and applauding the pinch-hitter's epic feat.

Over a decade later it still stands as the quickest ever ODI century; good going for a chap originally called up to the squad as cover for a depleted bowling department.

Responsible: Mark Boucher
Date: 20/09/2006
Site Of The Carnage: Potchefstroom
Deliveries: 44
Unlucky Opposition: Zimbabwe

With the series already decided and plenty of room for experimentation on the cards, Proteas coach Mickey Arthur wrung the changes to his starting XI and tampered with the batting order.

One such shuffle was the Boucher's promotion to number four. Forever pitching in with quickfire half-tons in the lower order, the wicketkeeper-batsman grabbed his opportunity toward the top of the knock with both hands.

The belligerent right-hander bludgeoned 10 biggies, taking a particular liking to the midwicket fence and the 20-or-so rows of spectators beyond. Finishing unbeaten on 147, he walked off with the Man of the Match Award and Man of the Series Award to boot.

Responsible: Brian Lara
Date: 09/10/1999
Site Of The Carnage: Dhaka
Deliveries: 45
Unlucky Opposition: Bangladesh

Against an attack littered with an unsightly plethora of slow bowlers, the living legend took full advantage. With fellow stalwart Shivnarine Chanderpaul dropping anchor at the other end, captain Lara freed his arms from the get-go, racking up three figures before the 20th over had been bowled.

What made his innings that much more masterful was his preference for ground strokes rather than the aerial route, 20 fours versus four sixes a testament to that.

Keen to keep cashing in on a good track, Lara even gave himself a bowl on the day; his very part-time leg-spin bagging him two wickets to wrap up a Man of the Match performance.

Responsible: Shahid Afridi
Date: 15/04/2005
Site Of The Carnage: Kanpur
Deliveries: 45
Unlucky Opposition: India

Almost 10 years since he wowed the cricketing world with his spectacular feat in Nairobi, Afridi again took to a Sub-Continental attack with the utmost of disdain.

No longer an occasional pinch-hitter, he opened the batting and raced to his half-century in 20 deliveries. Slowing things down a smidgen, three figures arrived a mere 25 deliveries later as Pakistan edged ahead in the six-match series.

It was in this clash that Afridi's now renowned nickname 'Boom Boom' was first uttered from the lips of commentator Ravi Shastri... reputedly.

Responsible: Sanath Jayasuriya
Date: 02/04/1996
Site Of The Carnage: Singapore
Deliveries: 48
Unlucky Opposition: Pakistan

Before Afridi rocked up, it was the Sri Lankan icon that held the record for the quickest century in an ODI. In a Singer Cup clash held over two days due to rain, Jayasuriya made Aamer Sohail's team fetch too all corners of neutral ground, The Padang; Sohail himself going for a mammoth 30 runs in one over at the height of The Sanath Show.

The pitch was a belter, with both teams accruing a combined tally of 664 runs on the day. Not to take away from Jayasuriya's heroics though - the only centurion of the match eventually finished with 134, including 11 sixes and 11 fours.

Responsible: Sanath Jayasuriya
Date: 30/06/2008
Site Of The Carnage: Karachi
Deliveries: 55
Unlucky Opposition: Bangladesh

On his 39th birthday and 'beating' Sir Geoffrey Boycott(!) by all of 51 days as the oldest bloke to score an ODI ton, the left-handed entertainer pounded and pulverised a pathetic Tigers team in game nine of the Asia Cup.

16 fours and six maximums (a touch short on the latter for our liking), Jayasuriya had those present at the National Stadium in raptures and Bangladesh at a loss as to where to pitch it next.

Grassed by Alok Kapali shortly after reaching three figures, super Sanath went on to reach 130 before Kapali redeemed himself somewhat with the wicket of the punisher.

Jayawardene sings Jayasuriya-Murali tune

Mahela Jayawardene paid glowing tributes to his two most experienced performers -- Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya -- after they played crucial roles in their 158-run win over Bangladesh.

"Murali was too hot to handle for Bangladesh and it is good to see him among the wickets once we are in the final now. Sanath is absolutely amazing and he remains hungry for runs," Jayawardene said after the match.

The Sri Lankan skipper said that the 201-run opening stand between Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara, who also scored a hundred, had set up the big win and a place in the final.

"We are taking every match seriously and we didn't let up on the pressure today as well. We are here to win the Asia Cup and we have to keep on accelerating our performances," he stated.

Jayawardene said Jayasuriya had shown that he still remained a top player after making a comeback to the team since being dropped earlier this year from the one-day squad.

"The selectors took the right decision at that time. They had to take a decision. Sanath had not scored a fifty in 20 innings and they had to look for younger replacements.

"But when Sanath made runs in the IPL they brought him back. I think the right decisions were taken at the right time," he said.

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