x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Big-hitting Jayasuriya is too much for West Indies

If any disappointment lingered among supporters at Trent Bridge over the absence of the scintillating Chris Gayle, they were soon dispelled by Sanath Jayasuriya.

NOTTINGHAM // If any disappointment lingered among supporters at Trent Bridge yesterday over the absence of the scintillating Chris Gayle, they were soon dispelled by Sanath Jayasuriya. The veteran Sri Lankan opening batsman, who turns 40 this month, adopted a Twenty20 approach to his cricket years before the game was even conceived.

His star may have been overtaken by those of a younger vintage of late, but there remain few more destructive batsmen in the game, as was evident by this display. His violent innings of 81 from 47 balls set the platform for an imposing Sri Lankan total of 192 for five against the Gayle-less West Indies. Tillakaratne Dilshan also used 47 balls for his 74 runs, his second consecutive half-century. Dwayne Bravo's flamboyance sparkled enough for him to pass 50, but not long enough to prompt a win for the Caribbean side.

They eventually went down by 15 runs with Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis taking two wickets each. Jayasuriya's method would no doubt find favour with the Pakistan captain, Younus Khan, who believes the players have a commitment to entertain in this format. "In this form it is better to take it easy and have fun," he said after his side thrashed the Netherlands to reach the Super Eight. Yet there is a serious drive behind all the frivolity for Pakistan's captain. "With no international cricket in Pakistan, if we can win the World Twenty20, our nation will stand up for us," he added.

"We need a cup for Pakistan. When we lost to England, every single person was very sad about that. Personally, if I can bring one cup back to Pakistan, it will be an achievement for me." With a battery of fine spinners in tow, led by the irrepressible Shahid Afridi, such a grand ambition is certainly not beyond Pakistan. Twenty20 cricket was supposedly going to be the death of slow-bowlers. Yet Saeed Ajmal and Afridi proved you have to spin it to win it at this competition.

Afridi was the player of the tournament in the inaugural World Twenty20 and, after seeing him claim a career-best 4-11 against the Dutch, Younus said: "He is the leading all-rounder for us at the moment. If he performs with bowling or batting, one discipline, everybody knows we are on the way. I am very happy with his performances so far." Pakistan's tilt could be boosted by the return of the Indian Cricket League rebel Abdul Razzaq. The all-rounder is free to return after severing ties with the league. A request has already been lodged with the organisers that he can replace the injured Yasir Arafat.

pradley@thenational.ae