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Posts Tagged ‘mahela jayawardene’

Part two of the Twenty20 Champions League Preview:

  • The Bangalore Royal Challengers have almost as many South Africans in their squad as the sides representing that country (even without the injured Kevin Pietersen). Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Dale Steyn all feature, whilst Rahul Dravid demonstrated in this year’s IPL that there’s a role for him in Twenty20 cricket which doesn’t simply involve driving down the run-rate.
  • Somerset‘s preparation has been dominated by Marcus Trescothick’s return to India, with some of the coverage seemingly willing him to suffer a breakdown. Assuming all is well with Trescothick, he and Justin Langer make an experience opening pair, with possible future ‘England’ wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter also capable of making quick runs. It’s difficult to assess how well the English sides will do, but at first glance it seems a mighty task for Somerset to win the tournament.
  • Sussex have a reasonably balanced side which was impressive during the English domestic Twenty20 Cup, with the batting of Michael Yardy and Ed Joyce and the bowling of James Kirtley particular highlights, with Luke Wright and to some extent Yasir Arafat capable both of adding runs and taking wickets at crucial moments. The side may struggle against some of the millionaire IPL teams, but perhaps greater experience of Twenty20 cricket will count in their favour.
  • Trinidad & Tobago are arguably considerably stronger than the side which is representing the West Indies at the moment, with Dwayne Bravo one of the stars of the (now presumably defunct) Stanford 20/20 competition alongside spinner Dave Mohammed, and with Windies wicketkeeper Dinesh Ramdin also in the side.
  • Wayamba have the experience of Mahela Jayawardene and the magic of Mendis. The latter will most likely bamboozle a number of players who are missing international experience, although he didn’t quite live up to his billing for Kolkatta in the IPL. The side look more like dark horses than front-runners, but, as I’ve already said, anything could happen over 20 overs.
  • Victoria might suffer for the loss of Dirk Nannes, but David Hussey and Brad Hodge have the class to make an impact with the bat. Bryce McGain has another chance to make an impact outside of Australia following his disappointing Test ‘career’.
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  • South Africa have always been the nearly men of 50-over cricket, but they did win the Champions Trophy back in 1998, since when they have developed a reputation as big tournament bottlers. This is South Africa’s best chance in years to win some ICC silverware, as well as to cast off the ‘chokers‘ tag.
  • Sri Lanka could be dark horses, with Dilshan‘s firepower matched by the steadying hands of veterans Jayasuriya, Jayawardene and captain Sangakkara. The return of Murali and the recent form of the pace attack will worry opposing batsmen, but the side will need to take a step up to taste glory.
  • England, having been humiliated in the ODI series against Australia, and without their two best limited overs players in Flintoff and Pietersen, will do well to win a match. The batsmen seem to fail whenever the bowlers succeed and vice versa, so expectations, it’s fair to say, will be easy to live up (or down) to.

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Following the unusual tribute to Shrove Tuesday that the curators of Karachi’s very own pancake produced for the First Test, it is to be hoped that the Second Test in Lahore will produce a more exciting contest.

The Test will be Mahela Jayawardene‘s last before he steps down as captain, and his last chance to lead his team to a hitherto elusive series win in Pakistan.

The hosts haven’t won a home series since 2006 (although they didn’t play any in 2008), so something looks set to give. Another bore draw would be an ill-fitting result for a Test which has the potential to become very significant for both captains, as Pakistan’s new leader looks for his first series win and Sri Lanka’s looks for his last.

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Sri Lanka have ‘welcomed’ Pakistan back to Test cricket in the same way that Daily Mail readers might ‘welcome’ the invasion of their home by a burgular – by repeatedly (in Sri Lanka’s case metaphorically) bashing them over the head with a cricket bat.

Most of the bashing was done by Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera, who combined in a record-breaking 437-run partnership as Pakistan ended the second day of the First Test a massive 600 runs adrift and with one wicket of their own already taken by an onimously economical Muralitharan.

It already looks like Pakistan may have some catching up to do before they can fully return to where they were 15 months ago in the Test cricketing order of things.

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For Pakistan, heading into their first Test series since 2007 with a new captain, there has been much talk of fresh starts and new beginnings. A pre-series ‘isolation camp‘ spoke volumes about the perceived need for greater team spirit in the wake of Shoaib Malik’s removal/resignation as captain.

For Sri Lanka, heading into their last Test series with Mahela Jayawardene as captain, the talk has been more of regrouping for a final effort, one last heist. The side has struggled against Pakistan in the past, and Jayawardene will be keen to put that right before he rides off into the sunset as Sri Lanka’s most successful captain ever.

For the hosts, there are a number of changes since their last Test more than 14 months ago. Khurram Manzoor looks set to make his Test debut in the first match, and Mohammad Talha may also feature. Much, as ever, depends on Salman Butt getting the batting order off to a good start.

Sri Lanka fans may have been worried by the diminished impact that their twin spin bowling attack had in the recent ODIs against India. The Test arena, however, is very different to the One Day game in its treatment of spinners, and Muralitharan in particular may feel under less pressure now that he isn’t under the kind of intense scrutiny which he was subject to in the run up to his ODI world record.

You can follow the First Test here.

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Mahela Jayawardene has announced that he will step down as Sri Lanka captain at the end of the two-test series against Pakistan. His record as captain stands up well – he has been the most successful Sri Lankan captain by a number of measures, and his batting average as captain is better than those of Sobers, Ponting, Lara, Gooch or Hammond.

In tribute to his achievements as captain, enjoy his remarkable 374 against South Africa from back in 2006:

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India edged ahead in the series with victory over Sri Lanka in the 3rd ODI at Colombo.

India’s 237/9 from their 50 overs came largely due to MS Dhoni, who played the leading role in the tourists’ fightback from 91/4 , making 76 from 80 balls before falling to Mendis. The main support came from Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma, both of whom shared 50-run partnerships with the Indian captain.

Sri Lanka’s response stalled early on, and the margin of victory would have been considerably more than 33 runs were it not for Mahela Jayawardene‘s battling 94 from 111 balls. The rest were swept away by India’s bowlers, mainly Zaheer ‘Wrath of’ Khan and Munaf Patel.

Neither side’s batsmen have really got going up until now, but this match had signs that there may be bigger scores ahead, after the first two ODIs of the series were dominated by the ball.

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