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Sri Lanka take Twety-20 games seriously

Rex Clementine reporting from Wellington

Sri Lanka’s captain Mahela Jayawardene said that his team is taking the two Twenty-20 Internationals, that begin today at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, seriously and not as mere warm ups for the five match ODI competition that’ll follow. The Asian region doesn’t give much priority for the Twenty-20 matches, the condensed version of ODI cricket which promotes big hitting, but in places like New Zealand, England and South Africa Twenty-20 is a big attraction. The tourists will move to Auckland for the second Twenty-20 International on the Boxing Day.

"We are taking it very seriously. It improves your skills and we want go into the ODI series on a winning note," Jayawardene told reporters after training in Wellington yesterday.

Although many cricket playing nations ignored the Twenty-20 games sometime back, it has got far more attention after the International Cricket Council announced a Twenty-20 World Cup next year in South Africa.

"We are very excited by these Twenty -20 games. Our guys have done well in ODI cricket and they should enjoy this condensed version of one-day cricket," coach Tom Moody added.

Twenty-20 was introduced in England a couple of years ago to improve the spectator interest in that country. The game lasts for just three hours where teams face 20 overs each and the format is a bowlers’ graveyard.

Moody has been planning Sri Lanka’s training meticulously. The batsmen are divided into groups and while one particular group tries out big hitting, another group work on rotating the strike getting quick singles.

"We’ve played just one Twenty-20 international before and I found it to be very interesting. It’s an opportunity to improve your skills whether it’s bowlers or batsmen or whatever. It’s not as easy as people think," Jayawardene pointed out.

Sri Lanka made its debut in Twenty-20 Internationals early this year in England and won the game in style before thrashing England 5-0 in the ODIs.

"It was a good experience in England. It was hectic for me as the captain. Doing fielding changes, bowling changes and I had to make sure that we finished off bowling our allotted 20 overs within the time limit. I learned a few things and one of those was that I had to plan bowling changes two overs before," Jayawardene said.

Although Sri Lanka had named three more players for the shorter version games, only Marvan Atapattu arrived on time while leg-spinner Malinga Bandara and paceman Ruchira Perera were forced to miss the opening game. However, Jayawardene said that it didn’t hinder team’s preparations.

Prasanna out of hospital

Meanwhile, wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene is out of hospital after going through surgery to remove his appendix. Jayawardene joined the rest of his team-mates Thursday morning. However, the player won’t be able to fly back to Colombo as he needs to take bed rest at least for couple of more days.

"Prasanna is fine now. He’s out of the hospital. I went to see him yesterday soon after the operation. He’ll probably have to stay a week or so in New Zealand as he has been advised not to fly soon after the operation," Jayawardene said.

Teams:

Sri Lanka (from)

Upul Tharanga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene (Captain), Kumar Sangakkara, Marvan Atapattu, Chamara Silva, T.M. Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas, Farveez Maharoof, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga, Akalanka Ganegama and Chamara Kapugedara.

New Zealand (from)

Stephen Fleming (Captain), Andre Adams, Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, James Franklyn, Peter Fulton, Mark Gillespie, James Marshal, Brendon McCullum, Peter McGlashan, Jeetan Patel and Ross Taylor.

-The Island Sports-

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December 22, 2006 - Posted by | South Asia, Sports, Sports News & Opinion, World News

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