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Jayasuriya throws a birthday bash

The demolition man turned 39, and celebrated his birthday with an innings that would put the youngest and best of batsmen to shame. Subhash Rajta reports.
Hindustan Times | By Subhash Rajta, Karachi
UPDATED ON JUL 01, 2008 12:53 AM IST

Sanath Jayasuriya is like wine, getting better with time. The demolition man turned 39 on Monday, and celebrated his birthday with an innings that would put the youngest and best of batsmen to shame.

In a knock that only he could have come up with, the left-hander struck a sizzling century off just 55 balls, the sixth fastest in ODIs, making him the second oldest batsman to score an ODI century.

There's simply no need to describe how he played; suffice to say that his cuts and pulls haven't lost even the slightest of their ferociousness, and his drives raced through cover region and past the bowlers as swiftly as ever. All Bangladesh could do was watch in awe as he bludgeoned his way to an awesome century.

The knock also exemplifies his desire and dogged determination to do well for his country. It's not long ago that he was dropped from the Lankan ODI squad. At his age and the achievements he had under his belt, anyone could have called to call it a day and look back with huge satisfaction at what he has achieved.

Not Jayasuriya, though. He showed his insatiable hunger for scoring runs in the IPL and his superb performance for Mumbai paved the way for his return to the Lankan squad.

And how he has justified the recall. Yes, the wicket was flat, and the Bangladesh attack isn't a yardstick to measure greatness, but then so brutal was the knock that nothing seemed to matter.

The knock also brought to the fore the absurdity of the much-talked age theory, which is so much in vogue these days. He proved that age is merely a number as long as one can contribute to the team’s cause.

Kumar Sangakkara also struck a century, his third in the last four games. The elegant left-hander, after outscoring Jayasuriya in the early part of the innings, went to sleep once Jayasuriya whipped up the storm. And once the storm passed, leaving Bangladesh in tatters, Sangakkara picked up his innings, and duly completed another century.

Bangladesh actually did well to eventually restrict Sri Lanka to 332, for they looked set to amass many more when Jayasuriya and Sangakkara collected 201 for the first wicket in 28 overs. Farhad Reza and Mahmudullah checked the flow of runs after the initial onslaught, and Lanka kept losing wickets quite regularly.

However, the damage inflicted by Jayasuriya and Sangakkara was too huge to be undone, no matter how creditable the effort.

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