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Jayasuriya leads Sri Lanka's charge
Prem Panicker | April 01, 2007 21:53 IST
Last Updated: April 02, 2007 03:20 IST
Sanath Jayasuriya led the way as Sri Lanka coasted to a 113-run victory over the West Indies in the World Cup Super Eights on Sunday.
Sri Lanka put up 303-5 from their allotted 50 overs after a solid batting display, thanks mainly to a 183-run third-wicket partnership between Sanath Jayasuriya (115) and captain Mahela Jayawardene (82).
In reply, the West Indies could only muster 190 in 44.3 overs, with only Shivnarine Chanderpaul (76) offering some resistance.
The defeat left the hosts facing likely elimination, having already been beaten by Australia and New Zealand.
Sri Lanka innings
It was an innings divided into two distinct parts.
And perhaps the most eloquent stat that sums up play in the first part of the key West Indies-Sri Lanka Super Eights game at the Providence Stadium in Guyana was this: batting first on being inserted by Brian Lara, Sri Lanka managed just 50/2 in the first 15 overs.
And in that score, Sanath Jayasuriya who, on the day, equaled Sachin Tendulkar as the most experienced one day player of all time and went past Inzamam as the second highest scorer in the short form of the game, managed just 14/33 with, gasp, one single boundary.
That Jayasuriya had to wait till the fourth ball of the seventh over for his only four of the period - a short arm pull off Jerome Taylor - is due to two factors. One, the conditions suited bowlers - there was early morning rain enough to delay start of play and juice up the wicket; there was cloud cover when play began and lots of swing and seam on offer.
And two, the West Indies reversed its selection boo-boos of the previous game, brought back Taylor and added beef to its bowling with the induction of Ian Bradshaw.
Taylor and Powell opened, and used the conditions impeccably. To Jayasuriya in particular, the two bowlers kept the ball away from his pads, and cut out width outside off: two moves that cut out Jayasuriya's bread and butter strokes.
The batsmen found it a struggle, and with the West Indies close fielding backing up the bowlers, runs were at a premium. Pressure kept mounting by the over, and Upul Tharanga, continuing his poor run in the tournament, felt it first. Powell sent one down on a very full length and got the ball to bend back a little, and late; Tharanga played all around the ball and was bowled (8/25; 18/1)
Ian Bradshaw came on for Taylor (4-0-16-0) and struck in his first over. Kumar Sangakkara, coming out ahead of his off-form skipper, had cracked the bowler for a four through the covers; two deliveries later the bowler responded with a beauty that landed middle and off, squared the batsman up, then left him late to find the edge through to the keeper 7/14; 35/2).
Jayawardene came in at four, and struggled to put bat to ball; at the other end, Jayasuriya kept trying to crank it up, and began looking increasingly frustrated as the bowlers denied him hitting opportunities. Something had to break - a run rate of 3.21 at the end of 15 overs was not doing the batting side any favors.
Finally, with the final power play being called, Jayasuriya broke the deadlock. In the 17th over, Jayawardene used his wrists to work a three off Bradshaw, to wide mid on; Jayasuriya then took over. He first swiveled into a pull at a short ball that found the fine leg boundary; the next ball saw the batsman come down the track and hammer a slightly short delivery over mid off.
At the other end, Dwayne Smith had bowled two overs for five. With the adrenalin now flowing free, Jayasuriya went after him - the first ball of the 18th was blasted over cover, the third ball saw another shimmy down the track, to pick the ball up on half volley and smash straight, hard, and long, clearing the boundary for the first six of his innings. He waited a delivery, then rocked back, shortened length and blasted square on the off - and the veteran was finally back in business.
At the end of 16 overs, Jayasuriya was going 14/33 and struggling; two overs later, he was 41/42, and Brian Lara sported frowns where, earlier, there were only smiles.
Lara gambled, bringing on Chris Gayle for Smith in the final over of the power plays, and Jayasuriya whisked him for a leg side four, cracked a couple of braces, then took a single that got him to 50 off just 47 balls. 36 of those runs had come off just 14 deliveries; it was, the commentator of the time was inspired to point out, as if Clark Kent had stepped into the phone booth and emerged as Superman.
The Jayasuriya blitz accomplished two objectives: obviously, it resuscitated a run rate that was in danger of asphyxiation but equally importantly, it took the West Indies attention off the struggling Jayawardene, and allowed the Lankan captain to find his feet without undue attention, and the pressure of having to score runs.
By way of bonus, it also messed with Windies' minds - the tight fielding and general buoyancy in the field disappeared, misfields proliferated and bowlers lost the discipline that had characterized the first 15 overs.
Lara's only real option was to turn to Taylor, running the risk of using up his overs in a bid to enforce some measure of restraint on the run-scoring. Jayasuriya adapted, cutting out the berserk hitting and settling down for the long haul with a stream of singles. And then, out of the blue, he pushed his front foot a mile down the crease, swung his bat in a very wide arc, picked Taylor up from outside off, and deposited him way over the wide midwicket boundary - his 233rd six, putting him in pole position in the list of big-hitters.
At the halfway mark, Sri Lanka are not, runs-wise, where they normally like to be. Against that, Jayasuriya is looking in ominous touch, and with plenty of batting to follow, and the West Indies defused by the veteran southpaw's hitting, there is a platform in place to push for the unassailable total.
5 overs: 14/0 @ 2.80 (Jayasuriya 5/12; Tharanga 4/19)
10 overs: 37/2 @ 3.70 (Jayasuriya 12/19; Jayawardene 1/9)
15 overs: 45/2 @ 3.21 (Jayasuriya 14/33; Jayawardene 11/25)
20 overs: 93/2 @ 4.65 (Jayasuriya 50/47; Jayawardene 16/41)
25 overs: 121/2 @ 4.83 (Jayasuriya 62/57; Jayawardene 30/61)
Overs 26 - 50
`Experience' is a word much used, even abused, in Indian cricket in recent times. Tangentially, that word and its implications have fuelled a bit of a debate on how old is too old.
Sanath Jayasuriya provided answers, today, with an innings that turned the clock back 11 years, to when he set the World Cup stage alight as a 25-year-old berseker.
He has aged 11 years since then and, at 37, is very much the senior citizen. Yet his mind is still that of the long-ago 25-year-old: free, uncluttered, fearless.
The only time you thought of `experience' in connection with this innings was during its early stage. As he eked out 14 runs off the first 33 balls he faced, you thought with some pity of his age. As he exploded at the opportune moment into a dazzling array of strokes, you revised in your mind; you thought, ah, so THIS is experience - the quality that allows you to confront a tough patch without losing it, and the sure sense of the game that tells you when it is safe to change gears.
It was only the advertising hoardings the ball crashed into, and the crowds behind those boards, that told you this was 2007, not 1996 - otherwise, this was deja vu all over again, as Jayasuriya flicked, drove, cut, pulled, and dismissed everything, pace and spin, from his imperious presence.
His third World Cup century, and 25th overall, came off just 86 balls; he was both engine and fuel in a partnership that realized 183 runs at a remarkable 6.10 - an association that pulled Sri Lanka out of what seemed a dead end, and put it on the high road to a huge, even potentially winning, total.
The importance of his runs cannot be quantified; his other important contribution might even go unnoticed. On his shoulders he took pressure enough for two, and while turning it back on the West Indies bowlers and fielders, he babied his out of form skipper through the yips, and gave him all the time and space he needed to find his feet.
It almost took forever. At the end of 27 overs, Jayawardene had played more deliveries than Jayasuriya (68 to 62) and scored a touch less than half his senior partner's runs (33 to 67). The turning point came in the 28th over, when Jayawardene went down the track to Bravo, got nicely under the ball, and powered it high over long on - his first boundary and that, a six.
That one shot seemed to turn things around for the Sri Lankan captain; from that point on, he eased into a second gear and a third, gaining confidence in his stroke play and also in his calling and running between wickets.
At the other end, Jayasuriya began showing the first signs of age, gasping after a quick run, occasionally bending double and wincing with unspecified pain. A tired waft at a Powell full toss, with no movement of the feet and no punch in the bat swing, saw him finally drag the ball onto his off stump (115/101; 218/3; partnership 183 at 6.10).
Jayasuriya trudged wearily off the field; the West Indies, with 11 overs and two balls still to go, looked even wearier as they contemplated an increasingly hopeless task.
The shoulders of the fielders had begun drooping from the point Jayasuriya started his assault; by the time he was done, they were just going through the motions, with their minds elsewhere. Jayawardene, in the 44th over, slogged Gayle high in the air. Dwayne Smith, in fact and reputation the best of the home fielders, with time to spare got under the ball, got the ball in his hands, and watched it pop out again.
The let off didn't prove particularly costly - with the first ball of the next over, Bravo took Jayawardene out with a superb inswinging yorker that went through the batsman's attempted flick to leg (82/113; 251/4). It was not the most fluid innings the Lankan captain has played, but it was valuable enough in taking pressure off the ones to follow, and towards its end, Jayawardene was showing signs that he has slain most of the mental demons that seemed to be plaguing him in recent times.
Lara managed to keep his wits about him, bringing on Sarwan in the 47th and getting him to go round the wicket and bowl well outside the leg stump with a packed leg side field. Silva was caught napping by the ploy; three dot balls added to the pressure and a misguided attempt to change the line and crack it out on the off side merely ended in a tame catch to Lara himself at cover (23/31; 268/5). The over produced two runs, and a wicket - a rare bright spot for the fielding side.
The West Indies are behind the eight ball and they deserve to be: they let catches go, they muffed up in the field time after time, and capped their embarrassment when, off the penultimate ball of the innings, two fielders misfielded in succession as Dilshan hit straight, and gave four where there was just one. Dilshan stuck the knife in with a last ball six off Bravo, that lifted Sri Lanka above the 300 mark, and capped a superb all round batting display.
A curious aspect of the West Indies bowling card is that Lara bowled the expensive Bradshaw out (he bowled the 46th over as his last, ending with 1/67) while leaving overs of his best bowler, Jerome Taylor, unutilized: just another strange quirk in a strange, unconvincing performance by the home side.
Chasing 304, against the likes of Vaas and Murali backed by a superb fielding side, is not going to be any sort of picnic; they will know, too, that they have the wild card, Malinga, waiting in the wings. On balance, you would have to put Sri Lanka in the driving seat in this game.
Progression: 26-50 overs
30 overs: 153/2 @ 5.10 (Jayasuriya 77/72; Jayawardene 45/76
35 overs: 195/2 @ 5.57 (Jayasuriya 102/90; Jayawardene 60/89)
40 overs: 224/3 @ 5.60 (Jayawardene 70/102; Chamara Silva 4/6)
45 overs: 258/4 @ 5.73 (Silva 18/24; Dilshan 4/3)
50 overs: 303 @ 6.06 (Dilshan 39/22; Arnold 4/4)
West Indies innings
The West Indies innings was Murphy's Law in human form - large as life, twice as natural.
The Windies think tank, shuffling its batting cards like a panicky gambler, sent Dwayne Bravo out with Chris Gayle, hoping for a turbo-charged start.
Gayle embarrassed himself against Malinga, seemingly unable to pick the line and feeling for the ball everywhere but where it was actually going. One brief moment of light came in the quick's second over, when Gayle extended his arms into a golf style hit that flew to the long on boundary.
Malinga immediately tied him in knots with an unexpected slower ball. In his next over, he produced that ball again and this time, Gayle had a drive without picking the change down and sent the ball into orbit. Dilhara Fernando, back-pedaling from mid off in an uncoordinated fashion as if his arms and legs didn't belong to him, put all the pieces together at the last instant, and held a great catch (10/21; 20/1).
Bravo unfurled a couple of crisp cover drives, but for the bulk of his stay, seemed at sea in the opening slot he was in for the first time in his career. Chaminda Vaas asked him a few questions around off, then cleaned him up with a lovely inswing that beat the batsman's hesitant push, and went through the gate and onto the stumps (21/24; 40/2).
Brian Lara walked out at four - a move everyone and his uncle has been advocating. It made no difference - a sensational bit of work by Sangakkara behind the stumps ended his innings before it had properly begun.
The keeper came up to the stumps, as he had against South Africa, to keep the batsman from standing outside the crease and negating Vaas's swing. Vaas bowled one outside off on length that drew Lara forward into the drive and beat him with late seam; Sangakkara collected and in a blink, reversed direction and took the bails off before Lara's toe could get grounded (2/4; 42/3). It was the first stumping victim Lara had bagged, in a career that has seen 690 international wickets in both forms of the game and counting.
Jayawardene's captaincy is never by the book, but even by his standards, it seemed a touch strange, with the batting side well and truly under the hammer, to keep the power plays in reserve and bring on the two part-timers, Dilshan and Arnold, in the 16th and 17th over. The most logical explanation was that he was rushing 20 overs through to make sure that if rains did come down, there would be a full game.
Once he accomplished that objective, he went back to his main bowlers. The West Indies bats missed a bet during this period, taking a mere 20 runs off 7 overs bowled by the two part-timers, while the ask rate climbed above the 8.4 mark.
The famous Sri Lankan squeeze, powered by bowlers bowling tight lines and brilliant fielders, led by Dilshan at point, throwing themselves around the park and pulling off stunning saves, was on - and in the 24th over, Muralitharan came on to add to the problems, starting off with a slip and a silly point and straightaway finding the edges, while Fernando at the other end kept the batsmen on a leash.
A slash by Chanderpaul off Fernando in the 25th over, through point was the first four in 17 overs; the previous boundary was by Bravo, off Fernando again, in the 8th over.
At the 25 over mark, the West Indies was staring down a very big barrel: the run rate is a trickle, at 3.25; the required run rate is 8.93, and climbing. And Bravo, who often brings some momentum at the death, has made a premature exit.
Progression: 1-25 overs
5 overs: 18/0 @ 3.60 (Gayle 8/19; Bravo 9/12)
10 overs: 42/2 @ 4.20 (Lara 2/3; Chanderpaul 1/14)
15 overs: 50/3 @ 3.33 (Sarwan 5/15; Chanderpaul 4/28)
20 overs: 62/4 @ 3.26 (Sarwan 11/29; Chanderpaul 10/38)
25 overs: 82/3 @ 3.28 (Sarwan 17/46; Chanderpaul 22/57)
Overs 26 - 44.3 overs
Having spent the first half of the innings painting themselves into an impossible corner, the West Indies spent the second half trying to extricate themselves - and failing, and falling, in the process.
There was a brief flurry when, in the 33rd over, Sarwan whacked Jayasuriya for a four to midwicket to kickstart an over that produced 11; in the next, Chanderpaul played the first of three slog sweeps he was to pull off against Muralitharan, for a flat six over midwicket.
Invariably, when you spend a lot of time in neutral and then shift to top gear, you tend to crash. The West Indies did, in spectacular fashion. The first to go was Sarwan, who played a nonsensical heave at Jayasuriya, missed, and was all over the place when Sangakkara pulled off another lightning quick stumping (44/68; 134/4).
Murali then aired his latest trick. As against India, he went around the wicket to the right hander, set Marlon Samuels up nicely with an off break, then a doosra, and then landed one on the middle stump and straightened it to get the LBW (3/5; 147/5).
Dwayne Smith came out and tried to run to a push to short fine leg. By the time he recovered his ground, Malinga rocketed a throw and Sangakkara was perfectly positioned to take, and get the bails off (0/2; 148/6).
Denesh Ramdhin swept hard at Jayasuriya; the ball went high off the top edge, and Vaas ran in to hold with ease (2/5; 158/7).
The West Indies went into the slog needing to score at a touch over 14 rpo. Even with Murali having a rare off day, the Sri Lankans had way too many guns to make that even remotely feasible, especially with only the tail to accompany Chanderpaul.
The southpaw played a lovely pick up over square leg off Malinga in the 42nd; the very next ball was a reverse swinging yorker that crashed into the base of Chanderpaul's off stump and that was that (76/110; 173/8).
On paper, the Guyanese southpaw had been the only one, outside of Sarwan, to resist the Lankans. In reality, his sublime strokelessness through the majority of his innings merely pushed the West Indies further behind the eight ball with every dot ball he played - there were 66 of them. And when he left, the asking rate was 15.22 rpo.
Murali, having gone for 52 in eight, came back, went round the wicket, and got Taylor in front with the now-regulation ball that straightened with the arm (13/9; 187/9).
In the 45th over, Jayasuriya ended the innings, going around the wicket and producing an arm ball that slid past Powell's bat and went through to hit off stump (1/3; 188 all out). Lanka had won by 113 - and that margin pretty much summed up the difference between the two sides.
The Sri Lankans outpointed the home side in all departments; actually four, because Jayawardene's captaincy was nearly flawless while Lara made some bizarre decisions especially with his bowling changes.
Jayasuriya had an amazing day - a century to put wings under the Lankan innings, then three good wickets to wrap up the runs with.
Progression: 26 overs on
30 overs: 100/3 @ 3.33 (Sarwan 23/54; Chanderpaul 34/79)
35 overs: 138/4 @ 3.94 (Chanderpaul 48/93; Samuels 2/2)
40 overs: 163/7 @ 4.07 (Chanderpaul 68/106; Bradshaw 2/7)
The Cup: The Complete Coverage
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