Old is bold
Jayasuriya’s 101-ball 115 takes Sri Lanka to an emphatic victory over the WI, who now face elimination, writes Manoj Vatsyayana.cricket Updated: Apr 03, 2007 12:06 IST
Sanath Jayasuriya may be playing in his last World Cup, but has proved he still has it in him to demoralise any attack with his breath-taking strokes.
The left-handed opener gave a magnificent display of power-hitting to crack a 101-ball 115 for his 25th century as Sri Lanka posted a challenging 303 for five to leave the hosts to score their highest total batting second to win the game.
The West Indies wilted under pressure as they were bowled out for 190 to suffer their third successive defeat in the second round.
Jayasuriya’s knock revived memories of the 1996 World Cup in the subcontinent when he redefined batting in the opening overs with his consistent over-the-top hitting. He was one of the stars of Sri Lanka's World Cup-winning squad 11 years ago.
The left-hander looked subdued in the beginning against Brian Lara's side because his team had lost two early wickets and he didn't get much of the strike in the initial overs.
He made 14 off 33 balls, but his next 27 came in just nine. The Jayasuriya show had begun as runs came with amazing rapidity from his bat.
“I want to finish the World Cup on a high note. I haven't planned beyond this tournament,” said the Man of the Match.
“This is one of the best knocks I've played. It came in the World Cup and in a crucial game. We lost to South Africa the other day and we didn't want to lose again. Although I have 25 centuries, I'll never forget this one.
“Somebody had to take the responsibility in the middle, so I thought after I had batted for ten overs, that I should take the responsibility and bat for a longer period,” said Jayasuriya. When he was bowled by seamer Daren Powell in the 39th over, he had already put his team on course for a big total.
It was Jayasuriya who also set up his team's emphatic 198-run victory over Bangladesh with an explosive 87-ball 109 in Trinidad last month.
But he admitted it was not easy batting in the initial stages here.
“It was not an easy wicket early on. The ball was not coming on to the bat and it was seaming around a little bit. We didn't want to lose any wickets so I think Mahela did a very good job from the other end,” said Jayasuriya.
Skipper Mahela Jayawardene returned the compliment. “Obviously, Sanath took a lot of pressure off me,” said Jayawardene, who scored 82 and shared an 183-run partnership with Jayasuriya. “He gave me the freedom to play risk-free, as straight as much as possible and just occupy the crease.”