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Lanka count on Sanath factor

cricket Updated: Aug 17, 2008 23:15 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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Sanath Jayasuriya, and the ankle injury to Virender Sehwag, remained India's biggest headaches on the eve of their first ODI against Sri Lanka.

"Jayasuriya can be compared to Sehwag or Gilchrist," Mahendra Singh Dhoni said, when asked how India planned to counter Jayasuriya, who only recently hammered 125 against India in the final of the Asia Cup.

"It's important not to let them have a good start. They are the sort of batsmen who will take chances. So if you try to restrict them, chances are that they will commit mistakes. Players like Sangakkara and Jayawardene share the responsibility of rotating the strike and getting the odd boundary, they are very different. But someone like Jayasuriya... It's important to get him out early."

When the question of Jayasuriya's importance was put to Jayawardene, he spontaneously drew the comparison between Jayasuriya and Sehwag.

"Sanath in form is always a great thing because both with the bat and as well as with the ball, he can contribute," he said.

"And the start he gets makes a huge difference. If he stays for 10 or 15 overs, you are guaranteed a good start. He's a bit like Sehwag is for India. Sanath firing gives a totally different dimension to our set-up."

But Jayawardene did not put the onus of run-getting solely on Jayasuriya. "Generally, batting plays a big role in one-day cricket. Having a bowling attack that can pick up a lot of wickets is something you can fall back on sometimes, but not every day. Batting, if you are consistent as a group… you can win more games than lose."

And it was consistency that Jayawardene craved most. "After the World Cup we lacked a bit of consistency. We didn't consistently maintain our standards. The Asia Cup is where we turned it around, where we maintained consistency with bat, ball and in the field. That's the toughest thing, to consistently be in that competitive level."

When asked about the low scores that have been the norm in Dambulla, Jayawardene looked beyond just the pitch. "I don't think it's just the wicket. The wind is a factor. The wicket seems to have a bit in it for both fast bowlers and spinners, a bit of bounce and spin," he said. "That's a contributing factor for low scores. It looks a good, fresh, hard wicket, so you don't know."

India's concerns lie mostly with the fast bowling. "We haven't been at our best, bowling wise. We can probably do a bit better on placid tracks, and we're working on that," said Dhoni. "Hopefully the bowlers will take on the responsibility."