Mahela Jayawardena – The Kelani River of Sri Lankan Cricket

by Nipunika Sandarenu

When I was aged six, I started my school life journey with my massive friend called ‘Train’. I lived in Gampaha. Gampaha is also major district in Sri Lanka. It is situated 32km away from Colombo in Western Province in Sri Lanka. I saw lots of things through this journey. But one thing to me was very special. It’s a river called Kelani, which is one of the major rivers in Sri Lanka. In the morning & evening when it is sparkling with sun rays.It is a majestically beautiful sight to see. I think no one in trains ever experienced a sight as beautiful as this. Or the people in the river bank, I think they never took in this sight that is so part of the rich culture of my beloved Nation. This river is the life blood of Sri Lanka for many. For it gives water to drink, electricity for power. Sadly people neglect this river in regard to never full appreciating its meaning to Sri Lanka. It carries their tears, laughs and also sadly their wastes. Though it never blames them. It carries all these heavy burden & flows very calm & quiet to the sea. I remembered that a local cricket commentator said that there is a cricketer just like this river. When he scored nothing in a match all criticized him (especially journalists), but when he scored massive runs no one talked about that, only “a good work”! But all cricketers honor him . He is well known as Mahela.

Denagamage Praboda Mahela De Silva Jayawardena, well known as Mahela Jayawardena was born on 27th of May 1977. His parents are Sunila & Senarath Jayawardena. He also had a brother called Dhisal. Whom he tragically lost due to a brain tumour when he was sixteen. Mahela followed his studies at one of the leading schools in Sri Lanka, Nalanda College in Colombo. It was the place that he learned to play cricket. He developed his career through the school cricket team, eventually becoming a captain. Which helped him later to led SriLankan cricket team. He was runners up for the Best Schoolboy Cricketer Award during the 1994 cricketing season. Domestically he has played for Sinhalese Sports Club since 1995.Also he has played for Derbyshire In the English County Competition as their overseas player and now for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL.

He got his test debut against India in the record breaking test in 1997 at R.P.S, Colombo. Mahela was the 69th Sri Lankan test cap. He scored 66 runs in first test and also he scored his first century very early in his career, 167 against New Zealand and 242 against India. He made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe at Premadasa in January 1998.It took only 11 matches to score his century against England. He entered a pressure situation, with Sri Lanka struggling at 134/4 in the run chase, but made an impressive 120 runs to the win the match. Mahela led Sri Lankan cricket team from 2006-2009. He led his team to 1-1 draw in the Test series against England in 2006, an emphatic white wash 5-0 in the ODI series against England.Then lead his great Nation to the runners-up in World cup in 2007. He lead this great side to win the Asian trophy.

He became the first Sri Lankan captain to score triple century. Mahela shared a world record stand for 624 with Kumar Sangakkara for the highest partnership for any wicket in first class cricket history. He holds the records for 4th highest individual score in Test cricket. The highest score by right hand batsman. Highest score by a Sri Lankan on 19th of November 20009. He holds the records for the first Sri Lankan who surpassed 9000 runs. Then the highest score against India in India(275)which was the highest score at the Motera Ground in India.Also the highest score against any test country away from the home. He also holds the records for biggest partnerships in test cricket, for 3rd wicket with Kumar Sangakkara ,for 4th wicket with Thilan Samaraweera,for 6th wicket with Prasanna Jayawardena, for any wicket with Kumar Sangakkara and also for highest catches in ODI’s.

In 2006 he was named by the International Cricket council as the Best International Captain of the year. He also chosen as the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2007. He was nominated in 2007 as the Best test cricketer of the year.

As I said above some journalist criticized him without any evidence. I read an article in major newspaper in Sri Lanka on 15th of November. It said that Mahela will be very unsuccessful through the whole series against and that unsuccessful can be a half century. Mahela gave a very good answer for this by scoring 275 in first test against India. This journalist also must responsible for the resign of Mahela as the captain in team. You can criticize him but you can’t discourage him. Because he is not same as the some greatest players who was asking some more overs to score his 100 from opposition leader (that happened in the first test match between Sri Lanka vs. India 2009). He is the Best Cricketer in the world. He will continue his career through barriers just as the Kelani River does.

As a Sri Lankan on behalf of the Nation I say we love you Mahela you are a great hero to us all!

Posted on behalf of Nipunika Sandarenu.

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