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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > News > Report

Jayasuriya inspires Sri Lanka victory

Prem Panicker | February 10, 2003 23:05 IST

Here is a statistic you might want to consider: In two featured games on the first two days of World Cup 2003, the side batting second lost.

94.3 overs were bowled in the second innings of the South Africa-West Indies and New Zealand-Sri Lanka games, of which 52.3 were bowled by spinners, three maidens were registered, 287 runs were scored, and 11 wickets of 20 were taken.

Did someone say South African conditions would produce a seam bowler's World Cup? Think again -- the two teams, South Africa and New Zealand, that pinned their faith on seam lost; the two teams, West Indies and Sri Lanka, that went with spin, won.

Are we seeing a trend, and if so why? Could it be that the pitches this World Cup is being played on are tired, given that the season in South Africa began last September? Both the major games mentioned here have seen tracks keeping lower as the game progressed, and affording surprising turn -- is this something the Indian team management wants to do some hard thinking about?

The game of the day, between Sri Lanka and New Zealand, produced surprises -- but the result was not one of them. In our audio preview before the game, we had discussed the two teams and, on balance, suggested that Sri Lanka would win; in that sense, the result went according to the form book.

You would have to say that New Zealand paid a price for putting a short term objective, namely a home win against India, ahead of the longer term objective, which would be readying its team for the Cup. Preparing tracks where the ball seamed around corners was all well and good, but it created a situation where the skill of the Kiwi bowlers was hugely exaggerated.

Remember Darryl Tuffey? Mr Unplayable, just weeks ago, was so pedestrian here that he only bowled 5 overs in the Lankan innings, and was taken for 36. Shane Bond was quick, but by no means lethal; Andre Adams, who destroyed India in one game, was carved all over the park and only Jacob Oram, who bowled at a gentler medium pace and focused on a wicket to wicket line, stood out.

In a word, the New Zealand bowling looked remarkably undercooked.

Even more remarkably, no less than Stephen Fleming, rated universally as the best captain in one day cricket today, started off with a series of errors. Number one: The decision to leave Daniel Vettori on the bench, and go in with an all seam attack. Number two: The decision to field first on winning the toss.

By contrast, Sri Lanka appeared to have its planning right, with both bat and ball. It must have been tempting to play one of the younger boys, Kumara Sangakara or Mahela Jayawardene, up the order, but Lanka opted to bring in the veteran Hashan Tillekeratne behind the opening pair of Atapattu and Jayasuriya.

This mirrors their 1996 team, which had Asanka Gurusinghe in the number three slot. Gurusinghe then, Tillekeratne today, played the role to perfection, anchoring things down at one end, allowing the flamboyant Jayasuriya to play unfettered at the other.

Jayasuriya was on song, and pitch perfect. He started off slowly, took time to figure out what the new ball bowlers were up to, weathered the early loss of Marvan Atapattu, and once he had the measure of the pitch, launched into his trademark shots on either side of the wicket.

But the remarkable feature of the second wicket partnership was the running between wickets. Goodyear Park is a large ground, which means the fielders are standing further back than usual -- Tillekeratne and Jayasuriya capitalized by angling the ball away from the fielders and running hard to convert ones into twos, and braces into threes. More than the fours Jayasuriya hit on either side, it was the attritive impact of these singles and twos that really crumpled the Kiwis in the field.

It needs mentioning that the normally disciplined Kiwis played into the hands of the Lankans. Once it became obvious that Tuffey and Bond weren't going to roll over the Lankans, the bowlers lost it and began bowling both sides of the wicket -- which proved fatal given that the captain consistently opted for a 7-2 field. The inconsistency of line meant too many gimmes for the Lankan batsmen, and too much pressure on the bowling side.

Lanka in fact seemed set for a 300+ total at one stage, when a visibly exhausted Jayasuriya fell with the score on 193, in the 35th over. The likes of Sangakaara, Aravinda D'Silva, and Mahela Jayawardene however failed to build on the platform at their disposal -- and credit here is largely due to the duo of Styris and Oram, who kept their heads while higher rated bowlers were losing theirs and managed to contain a powerful lineup batting from a position of strength.

Check out theGraphical Analysis package (Click on Analysis, from the tabbed choices) and Manhattan and Line and Length segments will tell you, better than words, how the innings ebbed and flowed.

The New Zealand innings was an antithesis of the Lankan one. Nathan Astle was almost run out off the very first ball. Five balls later, he converted the 'almost' into actuality -- pushing a Vaas delivery back down the track on the on side, the batsman took off for a single and Vaas raced down the track, fielded, spun, and threw down the sticks with Astle a good five, six yards short of the crease.

Avishka Gunaratne took the new ball ahead of Dilhara Fernando -- and soon showed why. He is not as pacy as Fernando, but his control of line and length is better, he bowls full and seams it both ways late. One such delivery, angling across Stephen Fleming, had the Kiwi skipper pushing blind, in the fashion we saw him employ against Srinath in particular, and guide it to Sangakaara.

At 2/2, the Kiwis had gotten off to the falsest of false starts. Craig McMillan walking in at number three was an omen of more to come this, you will recall, was the batsman so woefully off form against India that he was dropped and asked to go back to domestic cricket and work things out.

He hasn't.

Gunaratne moved one away late, McMillan prodded at it with no foot movement whatsoever, and Sangakaara held the edge to have the Kiwis 15/3.

Chris Cairns, playing purely as a batsman, and Scott Styris, then produced a reviving partnership of sorts -- and Jayasuriya countered with classic handling of his bowling attack. Again, the Manhattan -- this time, for the New Zealand batting effort -- tells the story.

Muralitharan was brought in early, but removed after just three overs. Jayasuriya brought himself on, confirmed for his own satisfaction that the pitch was turning, and whistled up another veteran of such wars, Aravinda. From then on, it was about rotation of spinners, with Russel Arnold joining the lineup.

Aravinda and Murali turned the ball square, Jayasuriya and Arnold opted for the tight, wicket to wicket line. Cairns, who had for the most part eschewed his tendency to launch into anything landing on his half of the pitch, was finally foxed by a slower delivery -- Cairns pushed at it on the walk and Aravinda, in a fashion that mocked his age and girth, dived forward to snaffle an inch off the deck on the follow through.

That was pretty much that. Jayasuriya from then on rotated his spinners, allowed Styris -- who, alone, looked the part of a batsman -- all the singles and twos he wanted to take while denying him pressure-relieving boundaries, and worked on winkling the other batsmen out. Styris himself survived twice -- a dropped chance out on the midwicket boundary, and a stumping -- but to his credit, single handedly hauled the Kiwis to within one decent partnership of the target.

One final fact tells the story, both of this game and of the World Cup thus far -- Vaas, who bowled a superb first spell of 7-0-22-0 wherein he troubled the first five batsmen in the Kiwi lineup, and Gunaratne, who took out those two early wickets, had 8 unused overs between them when the curtain came down.

Sri Lanka went back to the style of play that had made them such a force on subcontinental tracks in 1996 -- the irony is that they did it, successfully, on a ground that pre-match punditry predicted would favor the fast men.

Two days have turned Group B on its head -- the two teams most favored to make the Super Six (S'Africa and New Zealand) have zeroes against their names while the two teams that were supposed to be natural wooden spoonists (Windies and Lanka) have taken early leads.

And the fun hasn't even started, yet!

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    Number of User Comments: 10

    Sub: What a victory

    Hi Im Arunkumar.S an avid fan of the SriLankan team, I would just like to share one very good attitude of the old SriLankan - ...

    Posted by Arunkumar.S

    Sub: One more surprise...

    When people are talking about the surprises in the WC. I guess people should be ready one more big surprise in the game of Aus ...

    Posted by Adithya

    Sub: Well said......

    hi Prem First talking abt the 2 games....WOW!!!...what a start to the world cup...perfect...I mean to hell with all the pundits...cricket with all its glorious ...

    Posted by Ashwin Kaklij

    Sub: Lankan Win

    All the pundits were indeed saying that nothing much should be made of the NewZealand tour debacle with regard to the WC where conditions are ...

    Posted by Madhu

    Sub: Kenya suddenly safe for Kiwis !

    Following the loss to SL, I expect the Kiwis will suddenly find Kenya a very safe place to play. Such hypocrites (Eng, NZ, Aus) should ...

    Posted by Ashwin


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