Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sanath Jayasuriya changed the face of ODI's - Manoj Prabhakar

The last two overs of Manoj Prabhakar’s international career were his most painful. Not only was he asked to bowl off-spin, the medium-pacer was also booed off his home turf in a Group A clash during the 1996 World Cup after receiving a pasting off the bat of Sanath Jayasuriya. Back then, Jayasuriya had just begun to open the innings along with Romesh Kaluwitharana, but soon the duo changed the way teams went about the first 15 overs of an ODI innings.

The match was Prabhakar’s last as Jayasuriya took 47 runs off his four overs. As the Lankan completed 20 years in international cricket on Saturday, Prabhakar recalled his encounter with the man who pretty much changed the face of one-day cricket.

“Not just me, but every other bowler in that period was struggling to bowl to the Lankans. They were hitting everything over our heads to use the fielding restrictions to the maximum. And the credit goes to Jayasuriya — he was unbeatable and one of the main reasons Sri Lanka went on to win the World Cup,” Prabhakar told The Sunday Express.

Now, 443 ODIs and 110 Test matches since his debut against Australia 20 years ago in Melbourne, Jayasuriya, 40, is not the player he used to be. Not commanding an automatic place in the XI, his role has changed with time.

‘New responsibilities’

“After 20 years of international cricket, he is now donning a different role and taking up new responsibilities. Overall, it was a great journey for him. He has enjoyed it and so have we,” Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara said.

Talking about Jayasuriya’s contribution to the team, he added: “He’s been a great inspiration to Sri Lankan cricket from 1996 onwards, when he turned ODI cricket upside down. He is such a valuable player that we noticed the team were over-dependent on him. He creates an atmosphere where you feel that if he is there, you are invincible.

“For all the runs he scored and the wickets he took, Sanath deserves the credit and accolades that come his way. He has helped us move on from the over-dependence on him, and now we’re learning to win matches without him. That doesn’t undermine Jayasuriya as a player.”


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