ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 40

Top order should put their hands up

By Marlon Fernandopulle

Sri Lanka’s quest to make a strong statement at the 9th edition of the ICC World Cup will depend on their top order batsmen with the onus once again resting on the shoulders of thirty seven year old veteran Sanath Jayasuriya.

Captain Mahela Jayawardene and Coach Tom Moody have both expressed confidence of the team’s performance and at the same time have been very cautious about the Lanka’s chances of winning the tournament.

“We have been playing very well over the last year with some good performances that included winning in England 5-0 and levelling 2-2 in New Zealand. The players have adapted very well to conditions overseas and we now just need to keep this momentum going”, said Jayawardene before leaving for the Caribbean earlier this week.

When asked what his team should do to bring back the World Cup, Jayawardene said,” We need to re-produce the brand of cricket that we played in 1996 that surprised all other teams”. The performance of Sanath Jayasuriya in that world cup in which he was adjudged the most valuable player was no doubt at the back of the captain’s mind.

Jayasuriya who will be playing in his 5th world cup has already shown glimpses of his 1996 form during the last year. He scored over 1000 runs in 2006 that included five centuries one of which was a 99 ball 152 against England. Skipper Jayawardene is aware that if Jayasuriya gets going in his usual element the game is as good as won.

Vice Captain Kumar Sangakkara who is also expected to play a key role with the bat expects Jayasuriya to leave his mark in his final World Cup appearance. “Sanath has shown that he has not lost the magic touch of being able to single-handedly win matches for us. He has been doing that for so many years and going into the World Cup he will once again be our batting asset.”
It’s not only Jayawardene and Sangakkara but today the ordinary citizens on the street will also echo similar sentiments. However, the captain feels that they should not put undue pressure on Jayasuriya alone and the other batsman should also put their hand up and perform when required. That may be the liking of Jayawardene but going by past records the facts are crystal clear-if Jayasuriya fires Sri Lanka wins and vice versa.

Whatever the experts or bookies predict it is evident there are no clear favourites for this year’s world cup which remains wide open. The entry of Lasith Malinga to join Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan has added a new dimension to the Lankan bowling attack. As stated by skipper Mahela Jayawardene the team now has the ability of bowling sides out within the 50 overs and that has proved to be a big achievement.

The improved bowling attack of the Sri Lankans has given the team a greater chance of making headway at this year’s World Cup. However, it will be up to their batsmen to take up the challenge and put up a competitive score that will give their bowlers an opportunity to perform. In a tournament of this nature the batsmen will have to deliver and also be consistent. It’s only then that the team can win and make it to the last four and the finals. Can the Lankan batsmen do it? Can Jayasuriya repeat his 1996 performance? The coming weeks will answer these questions.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.