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Twenty-20 is lot of fun – Mahela

Rex Clementine reporting from Wellington

After Sri Lanka were declared winners of the first Twenty-20 International against New Zealand here at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington captain Mahela Jayawardene told ‘Sunday Island’ that the tourists enjoyed playing the condensed version of one-day cricket. After Sri Lanka restricted New Zealand for 162, they got off to a flying start making 62 runs in just 5.5. overs. Rain stopped the game at that stage and Sri Lanka were declared winners after the Duckworth/Lewis method was taken into consideration.

Traditionally, Sri Lanka have been not big fans of Twenty-20 cricket and in December 2004, the Sri Lankan cricket board declined to play a Twenty-20 International when the team toured this country. Twenty-20 wasn’t all that popular at that stage and by declining New Zealand’s offer, Sri Lanka missed out on becoming the pioneers to play the first ever Twenty-20 International. Subsequently, Australia grabbed the opportunity playing against New Zealand.

Although Jayawardene said that the team enjoyed playing Twenty-20s, there were some reservations in 2004.

"The game certainly was interesting. The boys liked it. Probably the start was not that good for us but we came back strongly. You have hardly any time to think in these Twentys-20s as you got to take quick decisions and react fast. We just told the guys to enjoy the game and I am sure they all liked it," Jayawardene said.

Sanath Jayasuriya was the hero for Sri Lanka as he cracked the fastest fifty in Twenty-20 Internationals in just 23 balls. The previous record was held by Australia’s Andrew Symonds, who smashed a half-century in 25 balls against South Africa. After the Kiwis got off to a flying start, Jayasuriya also did a good job with the ball as he picked up three wickets for 21 runs in his allotted four overs.

"Everyone is talking about his batting, but he bowled brilliantly too. It was a good effort by Sanath to come in when the pressure was on and bowl so tidily. Then he gave us an electrifying start and that helped us to stay ahead of the required rate, which is always important in rain curtailed games. Hopefully, he’ll take that good form into the ODIs as well," Jayawardene added.

With no warm up games before the One-Day Internationals, Jayawardene said that the Twenty-20s gave the players some preparation. "We are taking these games seriously. We certainly don’t want to lose any games. It’s a short version of the ODIs and the bowlers need to be accurate and for the batsmen it’s not easy either. It’s a good way to start as it gets us into the the one-day mode."

Jayawardene also said that the Twenty-20s had a future as the format could be used to attract other countries and the dwindling spectator interests at certain places.

"Obviously if the authorities are thinking of introducing the game to other countries it has its advantages. It’s easy to understand and the entertainment that people get is huge. In domestic games, where the spectator interest is too little, it can be used as a way to attract people. So I think it’s got a good future."

The International Cricket Council has announced a Twenty-20 World Cup in September next year in South Africa. Will Sri Lanka be one of the leading contenders for the trophy?

"It’s interesting, but we haven’t had that much of an experience playing this game. Maybe we are okay, but certainly there are lot of things that can be improved. There’s nothing to rush and we got to take it easy. Maybe we can bring in a few different personal like Twenty-20 experts or something. Tactics can change too. It’s fascinating and we’ll think about it."

On Friday, Jayawardene sprung a surprise by brining himself on in the 18th over to bowl off-spin and later gave Chamara Silva a go with his leg-spin in the next over. "I had a bit of fun. I felt that the slow bowlers were doing a good job instead of the paceman. With T.M. Dilshan not in the side, the only option was to bring myself on. I first asked Chamara whether he liked to have a go. He was reluctant and when Nathan Astle got out he agreed and got a wicket too. It seems that there’s very few things that he can’t do at the moment. We all do bowling at the nets as we might have to come in at a tough situation. It was a good experience overall," Jayawardene said.

SL leave to Auckland

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan team left to Auckland Saturday morning to prepare for the second Twenty-20 on the Boxing Day. Ruchira Perera and Malinga Bandara have reached Auckland and will be available for selection for the second game. Akalanka Ganegama, meanwhile, leave to Colombo, but wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene, who underwent an appendicitis operation in Wellington will remain in New Zealand for at least another week.

Jayawardene travelled with the team to Auckland, but doctors have advised him not to take the long flight back home so soon.

-The Sunday Island –

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December 24, 2006 - Posted by | South Asia, Sports, Sports News & Opinion, World News

1 Comment »

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    Comment by nano | December 31, 2006 | Reply


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