|Tuesday, 17 September 2002|
Jayasuriya, de Silva a class act
Comment by Elmo Rodrigopulle
The International Cricket Council Champions Trophy Mini World Cup got off to a flying start with one of the favourites for the title Sri Lanka bashing the Pakistanis by eight wickets in the opener under lights at the R. Premadasa stadium on Thursday.
In the other three games played and at the time of writing South Africa just managed a final ball victory over the West Indies, India were lucky to beat Zimbabwe and Australia showed their prowess by stuffing the Kiwis.
The Sri Lankans seem to continue from where they left off in Morocoo where they got the better of Pakistan and South Africa to bring home the trophy.
Pakistan who batted first could not get going, being restricted by the varied Lankan bowling attack well handled by skipper Sanath Jayasuriya and could only make 200 which was not a challenging total considering the Lankan batting depth.
As we have said earlier, the Pakistanis are individually brilliant, but very seldom click as a team. Unless a skipper in the mould of another Imran Khan emerges, Pakistan cricket will enjoy limited success until then. When the Lankans batted they lost Atapattu and Sangakkara early. At 46 for two the game was poised for an interesting finish. It was then that Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva got together to play sensible cricket and see Lanka through. Theirs was a class act.
Jayasuriya played one of his better innings. His century was worth its weight in gold. He did not bash the bowling around, but played each delivery on its merits and accumulated his runs with no hurry.
However when the loose balls came along he sent them scorching to the fence. The Lankans depend a lot on Jayasuriya. He is aware of this and now bats with responsibility.
It was also pleasing to see De Silva scoring his runs with clever pushes and nudges. He too waited for the loose ball to hit. But in all he played an innings for the team.
Jayasuriya and De Silva have shown the Lankans how and we hope they will continue in this form, take Sri Lanka to the final and win it.
The Lankans in their endeavour for victory were well served by the large crowd that packed the stadium to egg them on. The Lankans are assured of tremendous support in their remaining games. South Africa who are hosts of the next World Cup, will have to tighten up their game if they are to make headway in the tourney. It was just one of those things that deprived the Windies of victory and a ticket to the next round.
As for the Indians and their victory over Zimbabwe they must thank in form batsman Rahul Dravid and Mohammed Kaiff and poor Zimbabwe fielding for their victory. When Dravid and Kaiff were cutting loose, the Zim fielding fell to pieces and they conceded too many runs in the final overs.
Kaiff once again played an innings that was reminiscent of the one he played against England in the triangular final which also included Sri Lanka in England. He has the ideal temperament for a batsman who comes in the middle.
When the Zims began their chase, once again it was the world's best wicket keeper batsman, the left-handed Andy Flower who held the batting together and was showing them the way to victory. From the time that the Zimbabweans were accepted as a full member of the ICC, the Flower brothers, the other being Grant have carried their cricket on their shoulders.
Andy once again played a masterly innings, and although his century could not lead his side to victory, it is an innings that he will always remember and treasure.
As for the kangaroos, they proved once again what a well-oiled unit they are. After bashing the Kiwi bowling to all parts of the field to run up a near 300 mark, their pacemen led by the consistent Glen McGrath simply strangled the Kiwis batting to gain an easy victory raising little sweat.
After their defeat, it seems as though the Pakistan captain Waqar Younis and coach Mudazzar Nazar will face the guillotine. Nazar has been summoned to face bouncers likely to be bowled by the Pakistan Board. How the captain and coach will come out of it will be interesting to watch.
If Younis is to be axed, a likely captain who should be able to get them to play as a team and get the best out of them, as for us seems to be the steady Younis Khan.
The semi-final between Australia and Sri Lanka will be as good as a final and the team able to face the pressure better will come out victors.
Produced by Lake House