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Batting as it should be

In the first World Cup after the explosion of Twenty20 phenomenon, some expected the face of batting in ODIs to change drastically. Amol Karhadkar reports.

cricket Updated: Apr 03, 2011 03:00 IST
Amol Karhadkar

In the first World Cup after the explosion of Twenty20 phenomenon, some expected the face of batting in ODIs to change drastically.

However, India’s southern neighbours have shown that conventional methods still work. At least when it comes to batting. In all their eight batting essays, including Saturday’s final against India, Sri Lanka have showed that power-hitting is not a required ingredient in the recipe of ODI batting.

Moreover, the islanders have shown that more than the depth in the batting order, it is the strong top order that sets up a big total.

Barring the Australia match in the league stage in which Sri Lanka could not bat due to rain interruption, at least one of the top four — Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene — has fired, resulting in Sri Lanka getting a more than handy total on the board.

The only time neither of the quartet failed to build on a good start was against Pakistan and it eventually resulted in Sri Lanka's only loss of the tournament coming into the final.

Except for Dilshan who uses his long handle more often than not, the rest of the troika bats in more of a traditional manner.

Both the southpaws and Jayawardene, who handed a lesson on how to score at more than run-a-ball without hitting the ball in the air during his unbeaten century on Saturday, rely more on milking the bowling than going after bowlers.

When it counts
And as it has worked for them during the whole tournament, it worked in the final as well.

After Tharanga and Dilshan’s loss, the skipper and his deputy combined to keep the scoreboard moving with nudges and flicks off the pads and clever nudges behind the wicket.

With the bowlers confused, an odd short ball had to come and Jayawardene put it to the boundary with ease.

With the already weak lower middle order having weakened even more due to Angelo Mathews’ unavailability, it was imperative that one of the no-muck-with-bat occupied the crease with Jayawardene. And one of the too many no-mucks like Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga and Suraj Randiv, Kulasekara not only saved his wicket but also started upping the scoring rate with his crisp pulls and drives.

Except for Thisara Perera’s two power-hits in the last over, neither Jayawardene nor Kulasekara used their shoulders in the Powerplay. Still, they managed to score more than 60 runs at ease, emphasising that even in modern-day cricket, batting is not all about power-hitting. Are the youngsters listening?