It’s always interesting listening to all the international commentators talk so highly of Mahela, when most Sri Lankans rate him as alright at home and a bit pants away.
And then there are days like today when the disparity of his home and away record is as unimportant as Roshan Abeysinghes infomercials on SL cricketers backgrounds. Jaywardene has these days where he walks out and in the space of about 10 balls he’s assessed the pitch, the bowlers, and the total his side needs. And when his side is 3 down on the opening day of a test series it’s quite important that he is able to do this.
He also likes being captain. And he likes playing at Galle and against England.
And while a lot of things were stacked in his favor, a lot of things weren’t. With his top 4 back warming the seats, he had Chandimal, in his 2nd test, PJ, coming off injury and the bowlers. Those partnerships read, 62, 42, 21, 62 and 36*. This says as much about his ability as about his aptitude for getting the best out of his players.
Ranaga Herath usually comes out there looking like he’s got fire ants in his undergarments. Today he was so sedate that I tweeted wondering if he had been given a tranquiliser. It had Mahela written all over it.
It’s not often you see a really intelligent innings by a batsmen. While the other end resembled a black hole sucking in the SL top order, Mahela was calm. With the tail, he controlled the strike as well as Steve Waugh in his prime. And I can honestly say I’ve never seen so many late cuts in one innings in all my life. His foot movement to the spinners was immaculate. Being dropped twice only made this very real innings seem more human. Not some other worldly super innings that no one could ever fathom. Here was batsmen in his purest form batting to put his side in the best possible situation. Hiccups are a part of the deal .
This was a batsmen who was playing exactly the way you’d expect someone to in these situations. And that’s the reason why this innings was so good. He read the situation and he figured out what needed to be done and he did it. It seems so simple but its not something Sri Lankan batsmen are very good at.
Of course all this could be useless if England end up batting for a couple of days. But for Sri Lanka to be batting first, 11 short of 300 on Day 1 is pretty good.