Monday, September 14, 2009

Jayasuriya still has a lot to offer - Murali

By Muttiah Muralitharan.

There is something about playing India that seems to bring out the best in Sanath (Jayasuriya). Having played with him for nearly two decades and having witnessed first-hand his fondness for their bowling, I was not surprised to see him confound his critics once again on Saturday night with a brilliant display. 
With no fifty-plus score since January, his critics in the local media were getting more vocal about his future as he is 40 now. However, we all know with Sanath that he is used to bouncing back and he takes just one knock to surge back to his best. As he showed, age is irrelevant if you are still fit and have fast reactions. 
 Sanath showed that fitness with his superb running. Playing One-day cricket in the Premadasa cauldron is exhausting even for young legs, but Sanath coped with that physical challenge easily. He also showed off the value of all his 437-game experience, settling the innings after the loss of Dilshan, Mahela and Sanga. 
Sanath’s effort shows that he still has more to give and as long as he can chip in with those kind of performances, he will remain a valuable member of our One-day unit. We have a mix of young and old in our team right now and both starred on Saturday. The performances of Thilina Kandamby and Angelo Mathews were just as heartening as Sanath’s knock. 
Our middle order has been a problem area for some time now. We’ve had players of ability, but no one has really settled. Now, though, Thilan Samaraweera is starting to shine and Kandamby is looking increasingly promising. The calm and mature manner in which he guided us in the final stages of the innings, especially in the final Power-Play, was very impressive. 
In Mathews we know we’ve also uncovered an all rounder of real substance: a top-class batsman, the best of which we are yet to see, and a canny seamer with a knack for taking key wickets, as he showed with his remarkable match bag of 6 for 20. He has the head for international cricket and I think he’ll mature into one of the best allrounders in the world. 
We were obviously delighted by our performance. But today’s game is the game that counts and we have to reproduce that form again. 
India were well below par, perhaps rusty after a long layoff and maybe even tired as they were playing back-toback games. I have no doubt that after a day’s rest, they’ll put together a much better effort. We were fortunate to win the toss on Saturday, but if we don’t on Monday then we have to be ready to overcome that disadvantage and restrict India to a manageable total. 
In the last series in February, we let them pile-up huge totals and the bowlers cannot let that happen in the final. Chasing anything above 250 will be tough.

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