There are times when a player in full cry simply cannot be stopped.
Whether you shuffle the bowlers around, change the field setting or
change the pace of the game, there is very little you can do to stop
Sanath Jayasuriya when he is in one of his murderous moods. The
Indians often seem to evoke just this mood in the left handed
destroyer from Matara. The second day of the first Test between India
and Sri Lanka saw Jayasuriya tear the Indian bowling apart
in an innings that stole the initiative away from the visitors.
Opening the bowling on a wicket that seemed to hold few demons,
Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad found it difficult to contain
the 32-year-old Sri Lankan captain. Despite the fact that he was playing
a Test match, Jayasuriya scored at a run a ball for the best part of his
innings. The Indians, in an attempt to curb Jayasuriya, bowled a line on
the middle and leg stump. Every now and then the ball would be a touch
down the leg side and away it would disappear, either to deep fine
leg, through midwicket or over mid on. When the bowlers realised their
folly, they often overcompensated and gave Jayasuriya width outside
the off stump. Getting into position very early, using his strong
forearms in inimitable fashion, Jayasuriya played some monstrous cut
shots that rocketed to the fence. On one occasion, Srinath was even at
the receiving end of a cut shot that sailed all the way over the ropes
In, short, the Sri Lankan captain dictated terms to the bowlers,
controlling the run of play till the very end. An hour and twenty five
minutes after arriving at the crease, Jayasuriya brought up his fifty
off just 51 balls. Not surprising, considering the fact that he sent
the ball to the ropes nine time in that period.
However, the half century was just a sign of things to come. Judiciously
mixing aggression with caution, Jayasuriya blunted the spin of Harbhajan
Singh while dismantling the Indian pace attack. Off only 105 balls,
Jayasuriya brought up his eighth Test ton and put India in deep
trouble. Thankfully for the visitors, the superstition of 'Nelson'
struck as Jayasuriya was dismissed on a well made 111. He had faced
138 balls in 193 minutes and struck 16 boundaries and a six.
But mere statistics do not tell the whole story. Jayasuriya's knock
was one that led the Sri Lankans to a position of strength and for
that he is easily the Top Performer on the day.