Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sangakkara banking on veterans Sanath,Murali and Mahela to deliver in T20 WC

Mahela Jayawardena (left) and Sanath Jayasuriya follow the proceedings at the media launch of a new team sponsor at Sri Lanka Cricket headquarters on Tuesday.

The Sri Lanka cricketers led by new captain Kumar Sangakkara will take wing today to England for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup tournament starting on June 5. The Sri Lankans find themselves in a tough group with Australia and West Indies as their opponents. The first hurdle they will have to clear is beating one of these teams, if they are to move on to the Super eight group, the semi-finals and then god willing the final and the trophy. The Lankans play Australia on the 8 and West Indies on the 10 at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.

Pity that the Lankans have not been given a game at the Kennington Oval or the Mecca of cricket Lord’s. But that is how it goes.Addressing the media at the Cricket Board Headquarterson Tuesday, skipper Sangakkara said that he has the talent and theconfidence to beat their opponents.”

We have some plans and strategies as to how we should go against our opponents. If we play to form,there is no reason why we should not get the better of our opponents. Sangakkara said that in addition to the experienced seniors, he has some highly talented juniors with him. While the opponents will know how the seniors go, it is advantageous to have the juniors, because the opponents will not have a know how of the capabilities of the juniors.

The winners in this style of game are those who execute correctly the needs of this game. There is no time to think, because runs have to be made off each ball, not caring how it comes, but that it comes.When bowling it has to be wicket to wicket and curtailing the batsman’s ability to score.

What is very important is that the fielding, especially the catching be spot on. A big responsibility rests on the broad shoulders of the elder statesman in the team Sanath Jayasuriya. Jayasuriya has proved himselfin this style of game and knows how to adjust. He has promised to deliver this time round. Batsmen of the calibre of the

Sanath Jayasuriya

skipper, Tillekeratne Dilshan, former skipper Mahela Jayawardena, Chamara Silva, Indika de Saram and Farveez Mahroof must strike it rich with the bat. The good news is that Mahela Jayawardena is quickly responding to treatment and is fast recovering. “I am still not back to full fitness. But when tournament time comes around, I’ll be raring to go”, said a beaming Jayawardena who was reaching his peak batting form when he suffered a muscle damage.

Lasith Malinga, now that he has regained full fitness and showed good form in the IPL Twenty20 will have to lead the pack of bowlers.

Spinners Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralitheran and Sanath Jayasuriya must curb the batsmen. The conditions will be cold, similar to the conditions some of the players experienced in South Africa. The wickets at Trent Bridge will be more swing friendly and while the bowlers will have to have control, the batsmen will have to get in line before executing. The cricketers have been fortunate to have with them the chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket D. Somachandra de Silva a former national cap. DeSilva a former leg spinning all-rounder knows what the cricketers need.”

The players must have peace of mind to perform. I have looked into every need of the players and gone out of the way to please them. The players too have confidence in me and together we have formed a good rapport”, said the chairman and advisor to President Mahinda Rajapaksa on cricket. He is confident that the players will mark his appointment as chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket by flying back with the ICC Twenty20 trophy.

The Lankans will not have to worry about security. The organisers have spread out a security blanket and the tournament should go on without a hitch.

Friday, May 15, 2009

We want Sachin to bat for a longer period - Sanath Jayasuriya | Interview

The story of Indian Premier League season two has been the phenomenal performances from cricket's old horses. While the retired Matthew Hayden holds the 'orange cap' for most runs in IPL2, Adam Gilchirst has most dismissals as wicket keeper. Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya have smashed bowlers all over the park and just when everyone said Twenty20 cricket is for young guns, these men have proved many wrong.

In what is pitted as the battle for the semi final spot, Mumbai Indians star batsman Sanath Jayasuriya speaks to us.

It is said that T20 is about youth, you think that theory has been proved wrong?

I think all the seniors have proved that IPL is not just for youngsters and they are still performing well. I am very happy to play this format of cricket and perform well. I think experience counts a lot; we have played [a] lot of cricket. The key is to adjust in such conditions. All the senior and experienced players are doing well and because of them [the] younger lot is also trying to do well.

Do you reckon foreign conditions to be the main reason why the seniors are shining in IPL2?

Obviously, it counts a lot when you play cricket away from home. Seniors have toured South Africa over 4 to 5 times and that experience comes in handy [in] such conditions during this time of the year as compared to our part of world. So I think most players who toured South Africa have adjusted themselves earlier than [the] younger lot who find these conditions tough to play.

Seniors are important, but can one deny that T20 is for quick players and fresh legs?

It was proved last year that seniors are important and even this year some old players have played well. But I must admit that youngsters have been impressive this season. Even with the tournament being held in South Africa young guys have chipped in which is good for cricket. You need a good blend of experience and young energy.

Why have we not seen more of Sanath and Sachin at the top of the innings opening together?

Well, it was decided to promote Bravo up the order. He was keen to open the innings and it was a good gamble. He played a brilliant knock first up and helped us win a crucial game. Tendulkar's experience in middle order is needed; it comes handy during chases as he will look to seal the game for us if he gets going.

How do you and Sachin plan your innings when you guys step out together?

We always bat to a plan. Whoever sees the ball early on goes for the big hits. Some days it can be Sachin or other days it could be me going after the bowling. We just try to bat our natural game. We want Sachin to bat for longer period.

You think Mumbai Indians are too dependent on both of you?

Sachin will punish lose deliveries but try to stay till the end. It gives more confidence to the players when Sachin is out there in the middle for 10-12 overs. Duminy can play sheet anchor in the middle order. These two play a crucial role while others can rally around.

It's a big game on Thursday, Rajasthan Royals will also be looking for a win to seal semi final berth, but do you think it is "Advantage Mumbai"?

Well, we have the momentum; the mood is good in the camp. But in Twenty20 cricket all opposition are tough. Rajasthan Royals have been struggling in this tournament and with Warne injured, they have to work hard. I expect it to be a tough battle.

Any targets this season you have set for IPL2?

Last year I had a good IPL, I want to just contribute and keep it same. It is important that Mumbai Indians continue winning at the same time. I want to perform big. We need to try hard and look to achieve the first objective of reaching the semi final stage. We will try and go few steps ahead and put up good show this season surely but semi final is our first target.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kulkarni has filled in very well for Zaheer | Column by Sanath Jayasuriya



THE win against Bangalore on the weekend was an important lifeline for the Mumbai Indians, keeping us in the chase for the semifinals. Hopefully, by the time you read this we’ll have built on that with a win against Kings XI Punjab, but even if we don’t, the equation remains the same: we have to win our last three games.

We know only too well we’ve
been underachieving thus far in the tournament. However, what I also know is that we have the class and temperament to win this tournament. If we can fight our way into the semifinals, our tough run in qualification might just turn out to be an advantage. We will be battle hardened and used to performing under pressure.

The big positive from the weekend was our top-order batting. We lost Sachin (Tendulkar) early but we did not panic. The promotion of Ajinkya Rahane worked beautifully. He is a talented cricketer and I’ve been really impressed with him. He has the strokes and his nimble feet against the spinners were a treat to watch.

The 104-run partnership between JP Duminy— who was brilliant once again—and Rahane was
just what we needed. We did not set our sights too high and our 158-run target was always going to be competitive as long as we bowled well. In the end, although the margin of victory was just 16 runs, we won quite comfortably.

Another exciting young Indian talent, Dhawal Kulkarni, led the way with some miserly seam bowling. Replacing the injured Zaheer Khan, one of the leading bowlers in the world during the past year, is no easy thing. But he showed a good head for a young 20-year-old and responded brilliantly to the pressure.

Much of the IPL’s media focus is on the overseas players or India’s big name players, but ulti
mately one of the most exciting things about the tournament is the global platform it gives for India’s upcoming players. It gives the likes of Ajinkya and Dhawal a chance to showcase the talent and also a perfect arena to hone their skills and gather precious experience. This will be a huge plus for India in the coming years.

From our perspective, it is wonderful to see them flourish for the Mumbai Indians and I hope they continue in the next week. Certainly, after the weekend, the mood in the camp has been upbeat and determined. We know we have the ability. We just have to focus on delivering that potential at the right time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I am ready to rise to the challenge | Column by Sanath Jayasuriya



MUMBAI Indians continue to perform below expectations even as we enter the last 10 days of the tournament. However, in tournaments like these you must not make the cardinal mistake of panicking. Things are not clicking, but it takes only one spark to change things around.

Last year we started dreadfully, but then found our feet and nearly clinched a semifinal berth. This year we are again behind the leaders, but our tournament is far from
over with four games remaining after the game against the Royal Challengers.

I’d expect eight wins to guarantee a semifinal berth and seven wins to be sufficient for us considering that we also picked up a point from a “no result’’. Last year that was exactly what lifted Delhi above us into the knock-out stages.

After our win in Port Elizabeth, we need three wins out of four matches against Kings XI, Jaipur, Chennai and Delhi. All good teams, but so are we when we play to our potential.

The first of these clashes against Kings XI Punjab will be an intriguing battle. They’ve struggled a little bit of late with their bowling, especially in the latter overs, but they did a far better job against Team Hyderabad and the return of Brett Lee, a talismanic figure, is obviously good for them.

They’ll be worried though about the fitness of Mahela (Jayawardene). He has visibly grown in confidence as the tournament has progressed and he now has a very cool head which
allows him to marshal their middle order. If his hamstring injury is serious, it would be a huge blow. Whether Mahela plays or not though, they have some dangerous players. We have not seen Luke Pomersbach in this year’s event, but he is a big hitter and cannot be underestimated. Then they have proven match winners like Yuvraj and Sanga.

For us, the key will be more batting support for JP (Duminy). He has been the cornerstone of our batting but the rest of the top and middle order have not provided sufficient back-up. Some of that responsibility will fall on me and I feel ready to rise to that challenge. The management went for a new strategy on Friday night and left me out. As a player, that was disappointing.

Sanath, Sachin should continue to open : Lalchand Rajput

Former Mumbai Indians coach Lalchand Rajput believes that the team could still make it to the semis provided the opening combination of Tendulkar and Jayasuriya is not disturbed.

"Sanath and Sachin are world class openers and on their day they can win matches single handedly. A few failures in the early part of the tournament should not tempt the team’s think-tank to change this combination because I am sure they will come good soon and start performing continuously”, Rajput told on Monday.

"Sanath, when on song, is a nightmare to the best of bowlers and if both Sachin and Sanath start firing on all cylinders, no bowling side in the world will be able to contain them and to disturb such a combination will only be disastrous to the Mumbai Indians. The team management should have little patience," the former Indian coach added.

"Moreover, most of the matches the Mumbai Indians lost were very close matches and could have gone either way. So this is not the time to panic and unsettle the team by making changes at the top but to be patient and reassure the players that everything was fine and the team management would back the openers to the hilt," Rajput observed.

"If at all the think-tank wants to experiment with new openers, than they should do so against teams which are languishing at the bottom of the table like Kolkata Knight Riders so that even if the new pair flop not much damage would have been done to the team’s position on the points table," Rajput added.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

For team's sake, Jayasuriya finds himself in dugout | DROP ZONE

There was a sense of disbelief around the ground when the Mumbai Indians team-list was announced on Friday. No one could believe their ears — Sanath Jayasuriya had been dropped.

Welcome to the cruel world of the Indian Premier League, where reputations don’t always count. It doesn’t matter if you’re a superstar; if you’re not in form or not falling into the scheme of things, dugout is the only place where you can be on match day.

Jayasuriya’s is not a case in isolation. Team Hyderabad had no qualms in dropping
VVS Laxman for a couple of games, while Team Delhi are playing Dutchman Dirk Nannes and Amit Mishra ahead of superstars Glen Mc-Grath and Daniel Vettori game after game.

Mumbai Indians captain Sachin Tendulkar didn’t try to

hide the fact that Jayasuriya had actually been dropped. “It wasn’t easy but those are the calls that you’ve got to take from time to time. Shaun (Pollock) and me went up to him and said that he had to sit out this game and he accepted that,’’ Tendulkar explained.

The general feeling is that Mumbai Indians have only three match-winning batsmen and Jayasuriya is one of them. Tendulkar differed. “The bowlers have played a role in us winning the three games... And we felt, Luke (Ronchi) was the man in form,’’ was Tendulkar’s candid response.

It is precisely the same with Team Delhi, who are not playing McGrath and Vettori while Paul Collingwood has gone back without a game. “Are there any more interviews to give? Because that’s the only thing I have been doing since I have come here... I have no place to play,’’ McGrath reportedly told a Delhi official.

It’s understood that he, like Vettori, is a touch disappointed, but there’s little he can do but take it in his stride. “We know they’re great players, but at the end of the day it’s the winning momentum that matters and nothing else,’’ Delhi skipper Gautam Gambhir said. He makes it clear that the ultimate aim is to make the semifinals and for that they always have to look for the right combination instead of the right names.

“Getting the combination right is of paramount importance and I think that the players who are at their best are playing,’’ Gambhir pointed out.

The Team Delhi stand-in skipper didn’t seem too apolo
getic about his team’s decision, but Hyderabad captain Adam Gilchrist was when he had to ask VVS Laxman to sit out. “It was extremely difficult for me to go and tell VVS that he was not playing the game. But there was no other alternative,’’ said Gilchrist, who has had the opportunity of watching from behind the stumps those fantastic knocks that VVS played against Australia.

The Aussie ‘keeper, like the others, feel these greats sitting out may well have to play important roles in the games to come. It’s to be seen whether, after warming the benches for so long, they can come out and deliver straight away. If they get a chance that is!

Our batting hasn’t been consistent | Column by Sanath Jayasuriya



DESPITE Mumbai Indians having one of the best-balanced teams in the tournament, we are making hard work of our qualification to the semifinals. There is still time, but the loss against Team Hyderabad on Wednesday was a blow. We should have won that game.

I thought our seam bowlers did a terrific job to restrict Hyderabad to 145 for 6, especially as we were missing Zaheer (Khan) with a shoulder injury. Dhawal Kulkarni did brilliantly though as his replacement, snaring Gibbs early and conceding just 21 runs from his four overs. However, our batting, not for the first time, has not been consistent enough. We have usually had one or two players settle down, but we are not performing as a unit. The top-order of Team Chennai and Team Delhi have
performed as a unit and we have to do the same.

Credit to RP Singh, though. He was been superb for Team Hyderabad this season and fully deserves his place in India’s T20 squad for England. Without obvious straining, he hits the pitch, bowling a heavy ball, and gets some movement. He can be a real handful.

Once again, after RP’s double strike to dismiss Sachin and me, it was JP Duminy who calmly re-built the innings. The more I see of him the more I’m impressed. He has been our leading scorer by a distance and our biggest failure is not being able to support him.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Dropping Sanath Jayasuriya was foolish | MI Blunder

It was absolutely shocking when MI announced a squad dropping Sanath Jayasuriya from the playing XI against a formidable Delhi Dare Devils team.

The opening pair of Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar had only added 48 for the first wicket in their last four matches. The pitch ed encouraging for batting, and with the short boundaries, and then came this news which put me into total disbelief - "Sanath Jayasuriya was dropped".

Well this is what Sachin had to say on Dropping Sanath - "Well I know it is tough. But sometimes you have to take certain calls. For both me and Shaun, it was not a easy call. We know Sanath and he took it sportingly. It was a tough call for us and Luke was picked ahead of him. "

And what did his replacement Luke Ronchi do? God out for a golden duck. Not to blame him though.Mohd. Ashraful would've been a better choice than him. Sanath cant win the games for M all the time. Its the middle order and tail enders who have to step up, except Duminy, and Bravo no on seems like they've played cricket before.Others need to step up and not rely only on openers. Players aren't stepping up. They need to win the next game to even have a chance in the semis.

Jayasuriya who was responsible for Mumbai Indians success last year with both bat and ball and even this year with 2 back to back 50's and some crucial wickets whenever he gets the chance to bowl has been dropped from the side for which he dedicated so much.

This is so impossible to believe Jayasuriya, who is the best limited overs player in the modern era has been dropped from the side in such an important fixture and taking his place in this all important match is a rookie from australia called luke ronchi I mean a huge round of applause for Sachin Tendulkar for swapping Jayasuriya with a rookie in this all important match.

As captain, Tendulkar had let his team down big time. First the decision to drop Jayasuriya for Ronchi, to promote the in-form Duminy as opener and then to bowl the crucial 16th over - all had failed and no wonder Mumbai had gone down so easily.

It will be nice learning lesson for MI, specially Tendulkar so next time when he made a list of playing 11 he'll remember the fact that its Jayasuriya who holds the key to their success.

- Opinions expressed by Sanath community members on

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Closeness of the competition has added to its charm | Column by Sanath Jayasuriya



THE half-way point of the second IPL has passed with seven out of eight teams still in contention for the semifinals. Unlike in international cricket where the divide between the top eight teams in the world can be quite wide, the
closeness of this competition and the resulting tension and excitement has helped make this IPL a huge success.

When the IPL was relocated there were understandable concerns. Playing in front of Indian crowds is a thrill for the players and a great spectacle. If this event was played out in front of empty stands it would have been a real blow. But South Africa’s love of sport has saved the IPL. Not all matches have been sellouts, but the crowds have been large and the atmosphere brilliant.

In short, the IPL has spread itself beyond India and that raises the obvious question: should more IPL matches be played overseas in the future too? I am sure Lalit Modi has begun thinking about the future already. The problem, though, is how much the tournament can be internationalised without it becoming a logistical nightmare.

It would be nice to play a couple of games at Lord’s, for example, but the long-haul flights and jetlag would create problems. We might see match
es in Dubai and Colombo too. It’s also interesting to see some different trends. The most important one is the impact of the spinners.

While there are only three spinners among the top 10 wicket-takers, of the four most economical bowlers, three are M Muralitharan, Pragyan Ohja and Anil Kumble! Another trend is the domination of overseas batsmen. In 2008, five out of the top 10 batters were Indians.

This year only Suresh Raina, Sachin Tendulkar and
Yuvraj Singh are there. There are two possible reasons; either conditions are favouring non-Indian players, or franchises are packing their top-order with more overseas players. The latter explanation is backed up by another interesting stats: Indian bowlers have been among wickets. Seven out of the top 10 wicket-takers are Indians.

The likes of R P Singh, Ohja, Irfan Pathan, Ashish Nehra, Ishant Sharma and Balaji have had an excellent run, a great sign for India as they look towards the World Twenty20.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Time to get ruthless | Column by Sanath Jayasuriya


MI Will Have To Cut Down On Errors As Contest Hots Up


AT the moment the Mumbai Indians are blowing hot and cold. We are doing lots of things right and there have been lots of positives in the first half of the tournament, but with the players and the management team we have, it is naturally disappointing to be in the lower half of the points table.

However, it is crucial that we stay cool and remain focused on each game. Such is the nature of this tournament, with seven teams jockeying for semifinal berths, that every game is like a final. There is no need to panic. We have to back ourselves. We have the talent and the experience.

The turnaround in Bangalore’s fortunes just shows how unpredictable this tournament has become. A week ago after four consecutive defeats, they looked downcast, their hopes just started to fade. However, now, they are right back in the tournament.

Losing against them was a big disappointment, but cred
it to Jacques Kallis and Robin Uthappa, who batted brilliantly. To share a 126-run partnership in this form of cricket is not easy. They put our bowlers under pressure and in the end they won easily.

Obviously, the day could not have started much worse with Dillon du Preez taking three wickets in eight balls, including two of our main batters, Sachin and JP Duminy. That really put us on the back-foot and I had to be extra cautious, as did Dwayne Bravo when he came to the crease.
However, we did manage to accelerate. I got out after getting my eye in and that was very frustrating. But we were still happy to reach 149 for 4. We managed to add 48 runs in the last three overs and that gave us a chance. Unfortunately, we could not take more than one early wicket. After that defeat, we now have three days to prepare for the next match. It means some extra rest in what has been quite a hectic tournament. However, we also face the challenge of playing our next two matches against Delhi and Hyderabad, the two original frontrunners for semifinal places.

Obviously, both games are going to be tough, so we’ll first focus on Wednesday night’s clash versus Team Hyderabad. They have now lost Fidel Edwards, who did a decent job with the new ball and hence they’ll have to adjust slightly. They are also struggling to get their momentum going again after their winning start.

We will have to hit them hard and fast so we can get on top early. Now that we are at the business end of the tournament, we have to cut down on mistakes and have to be more ruthless. Every game is crucial and we simply must hit top gear this week

Monday, May 04, 2009

'Old fox' Jayasuriya in SL lineup for T20 WC

Veteran all-rounder Sanath Jayasuriya has been included in the 15-member Sri Lanka squad for the Twenty20 World Cup in England this June.

The southpaw, who has been in tremendous form in the ongoing IPL in South Africa, is the oldest member of the squad that was announced in Colombo on Monday. Kumar Sangakkara has been retained as skipper, while Muttiah Muralitharan has been made his deputy.

Most of the Lankan players, who are playing in the IPL, have been included in the line-up. This includes Tilekaratne Dilshan (Delhi Daredevils), Mahela Jayawardene (Kings XI Punjab), Ajantha Mendis (Kolkata Knight Riders) and Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians).

Apart from the squad, six players have been announced as standby players. They are: Malinga Bandara, Upul Tharanga, Chamara Kapugedara, Chinthaka Jayasinghe, Tisara Perera and Suranga Lakmal.

The Squad: Kumar Sangakkara (Captain), Muttaih Muralidharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, TM Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardana, Chamara Silva, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Nuwan Kurasekara, Thilan Thushara, Lasith Malinga, Isuru Udana, M Maharoof, Jehan Mubarak, Indika de Seram.

A victory today will take us closer to the semifinal | Column by Sanath Jayasuriya



HAVING slipped-up against Kings XI Punjab last week in Durban it was vital we bounced back quickly and we did just that against Knight Riders. It was a close game and we made some mistakes, but I thought the team showed a great fighting spirit.

Because teams are more closely matched in this tournament we are seeing tighter matches and more cliff-hangers than in the inaugural IPL. This means that the teams that cope best under pressure will take more of the 50/50 matches. We missed out in a thriller against Kings XI, but we showed a better temperament against Knight Riders, refusing to panic at critical moments. That is something we need to build on because as the tournament progresses the pressure is growing steadily.

J P Duminy’s 52 not out was the game-maker for us against Knight Riders. They bowled well and they put us under pressure. Run scoring was not easy and on 96 for 5 after 16 overs, we were definitely on the backfoot. However Duminy took charge when it mattered most.

In several matches thus far, we have seen crucial runs added in the last four overs of the first innings, lifting mediocre scores up to respectability. We saw RC do that against Kings XI after our game and Duminy’s late rally, scoring 54 from the last 24 balls was a huge moment. Then Zaheer Khan stood up in the first three overs of the chase. He has undoubtedly been India’s best fast bowler in the past year and arguably the best in the world alongside the likes of Dale Steyn. His dismissals of Chris Gayle and Sourav Ganguly secured the initiative.

In the space of six overs the match had swung emphatically. But such is the unpredictable nature of this format, Brad Hodge was still able to give us a late scare with some sensible and skilful batting, reducing the target down to a manageable 38 from four overs. We were under pressure again. However, Lasith
(Malinga), although ultimately wicketless, was brilliant again. His last two overs were near-perfect. By choking off the runs, conceding just 11 runs, he sealed the win.

Today’s match is an opportunity to start pushing greater pressure on both Team Hyderabad and Team Delhi. We will make our progression to the semifinals much easier by claiming win number four. However, Royal Challengers, responding well to Kumble’s leadership, also seem to be growing in confidence

Saturday, May 02, 2009

[Video] | Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya 127 of 92 balls Partnership against KKR

Superman Jayasuriya and Batman Tendulkar

Marvel comics once had a rare issue where Superman and Batman appeared together. For many readers, it seemed odd to think of these icons occupying the same space. No room was big enough for the two of them.

Last week in Port Elizabeth, a similar pairing took place at the IPL. Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar, two cricketing superheroes, blasted a 100 run opening stand in just 52 balls. In the first IPL season, Tendulkar scratched around and then was injured. Jayasuriya revelled in the format, outshining Tendulkar. So, the dream pairing took a long time coming.

The wait was worth it. The Mumbai Indians’ openers were ruthless, but thoroughly entertaining. Tendulkar took the bowling by the scruff of the neck. He hit as many 4 sixes in the first five overs. There was an astonishing pulled six off Ishant Sharma, that showed that aging hero’s relexes were in tact.

With the floodgates open, Jayasuriya took centre stage after the fifth over. He had been starved of the strike and had added just 8 in a 45 run stand.

What followed was carnage, even by the hyperbolic stands of the IPL. Jayasuriya played his traditional drives over the legside boundary. Ganguly and Gayle were exposed as mediocrites. The pair never played a crude and contrived shot. No cross bat heaves were seen. Every step was as measured as in the old days of ODI cricket, when openers just blocked.

There was a poignant moment when Jayasuriya whispered advice to Tendulkar about Ajantha Mendis’ tricks. Mendis was not spared by either. Mendis looks a misfit in 20:20 cricket. Though he has vast variations, he lacks the crucial ingredient of spin bowling - flight. His inadequacies outside the subcontinent were made cruelly apparent. He was lifted for 2 sixes by each of the batsmen in his second over.

Also, Mendis’ fielding is clumsy. He looks lazy and uncoordinated, belying his 23 years.

On the surface, these two have many things in common. Their longevity in the game is striking. Both Tendulkar and Jayasuriya (who at 39+ is nearly 4 years older) made their international debut in 1989. 1989 is a year that will always be associated with the fall of Berlin Wall. The Cold War may have ended in that year, but the debuts of these batsmen may linger longer.

Both were the dominant batsmen in their sides for a generation. Tendulkar has a far superior test pedigree. Jayasuriya’s record overseas is several planes below Tendulkar’s. But in ODI cricket, there is little to choose. In fact, Jayasuriya has delivered in tournament finals, much more often than the Indian.

They are similarly built. Both are short, stocky and with powerful upper bodies. Jayasuriya seems fitter and stronger than Tendulkar who bears the burden of recurring knee injuries.

But that is where the similarities end. The two have vastly different origins. Sachin Tendulkar’s rise was facillitated by the patronage of powerful godfathers in Bombay. Ever since, he raised a world record 664 run stand with Vinod Kambli in school cricket, he was singled out for a great future. As 14 year-old, he was already thought of as a batting genius. A trip to the archives of the India Today and Indian Express in the late 1980s will reveal early eulogies of a pubescent maestro.

He did not disappoint. As a 15 year-old, he hit centuries on debut in each form of first-class cricket - Ranji trophy, Irani trophy, and Duleep trophy. In fact, was bitterly disappointed to be excluded from the 1989 tour to the West Indies at the age of 15. When he made his debut against Pakistan in late 89, a permanent place was certain. The rest is history.

While Tendulkar took the elevator to stardom, Jayasuriya took the stairs. Jayasuriya struggled in obscurity. His humble origins in Matara, a minor town in a minor Test nation, stunted his early growth. In the 1989 Sri Lanka B tour, he ravaged Pakistan with two successive double centuries. This achievement caught the attention of the selectors, who picked him for the tour of Australia that year. But, it took a long time for him to cement a place. He lacked the connections in Colombo.

Eventually, justice was done. By the late 90s, Jayasuriya had not only become the leading batsman, but also the captain. He struck fear in bowlers and was billed the ‘Matara Marauder’.

Jayasuriya has the added asset of left arm spin. In fact, with nearly 100 Test and over 300 ODI wickets, Jayasuriya could have commanded a place as a spinner. He is a superior all round fielder. Most of all, he excelled as a leader. He led Sri Lanka to nine test wins in a row and won the ICC trophy. Tendulkar’s intensity was his failing. His spells as Indian captain were unhappy. Tendulkar may be a better batsman, but Jayasuriya is the better cricketer.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Mentally tough Duminy has a good cricket brain | Column by Sanath Jayasuriya



IT’S fair to say we were pretty pleased to be chasing 120 for victory on Wednesday against Kings XI Punjab. The bowlers did a terrific job. However, sometimes the small run chases are the hardest. We ended-up putting ourselves under pressure and the result was very disappointing.

There is no point in getting
too upset, though. That’s cricket, as they say. Had JP Duminy’s slog sweet travelled two feet further we’d have been celebrating a famous win and one of the best innings of the tournament. As it was, Punjab were the ones dancing with joy.

There were definitely positives for us to take from that match. We showed again that we have a high-class bowling attack. We have wicket-takers and we have great variety. The bowlers put Kings XI under pressure from the word go and made them work for every single run, with Malinga leading the way alongwith Bhajji and Zaheer.

We can also take a big positive from JP’s mature innings. I have heard a great deal about him in the last six months and during this competition I have seen why. He is talented, clearly has a good cricket brain and is also mentally tough. The manner in which he manoeuvred the ball around, stealing singles with deft touches and picking-up valuable two’s was superb.

His innings was similar to Kumar’s (Sangakkara) earlier in the evening. Both batsmen showed calmness under pressure that only the highest quality batsmen possess. While all around them wickets were tumbling, they were quietly accumulating and strategising. It was just a big shame that no-one was
able to stay with JP and help push us over the line. Bravo and Nayar nearly pulled it off, adding 33 and 49 respectively, but we lost wickets just when the pendulum was swinging our way. It was frustrating, but you also have to congratulate Kings XI for putting us under pressure, fielding well and holding their nerve.

On Friday, however, we have a chance to make amends at Buffalo Park against the Knight Riders. We are still not even at the half-way point in this tournament. As Sachin said the other night losing is OK; we still have time. There is certainly no need to panic

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