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Sri Lanka completed a clean sweep as they trounced Zimbabwe by ten wickets in the 2nd and final Test at the SSC Grounds yesterday to win the Test series 2 to zero.
It was Sri Lanka's 5th Test series victory and 3rd Test series win on home grounds. However, yesterday's victory was the first instance when the limited-over World champions recorded victories in both tests in a two test series.
Zimbabwe began the day needing 47 runs to avert another innings defeat. They suffered an early setback when veteran batsman Ali Shah was snapped up in the gully by Chaminda Vaas off the bowling of Pushpakumara. Shah failed to add to his overnight 62, which was the corner stone of Zimbabwe's 2nd innings.
Off-spinner Muralitharan sent back Andrew Whittal and Bryan Strang in quick succession, as Zimbabwe slumped to 201/9. However, Sri Lanka's chances of performing the final rites early, were delayed as Paul Strang and Henry Olonga defied the Sri Lanka spinners and took them past the 209 mark.
Strang, who is better known to the world as a leg-break bowler, proved his talents as an allrounder when he compiled his first half century in his 9th Test. He was given invaluable support by Olonga who defied the Lankan bowlers and put on 34 runs for the last wicket. Medium-pacer Vaas finally struck for Sri Lanka when he held on to a good return catch to dismiss Strang for a well compiled 50 runs.
Openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama hit the required 27 runs for victory as Sri Lanka comprehensively outplayed Zimbabwe to win the 2nd Test with over one and a half days left.
Off spinner Muralitharan was picked the Player of the Series for his 14 wickets in the two Tests which brought his tally to 96 wickets.
Skipper Ranatunge paid a tribute to his two spinners who shared 27 wickets in the series that proved to be the difference. "Jayantha and Murali bowled very well in both games. As Jayantha turns the ball the other way he is going to be very useful to Sri Lanka and also a very good partner for Murali,". Ranatunge said.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe skipper Alistair Campbell rated the Lankan spin twins as world class. "You have got a very talented side that has two world class spinners. It's going to be very hard for any visiting side to beat you on home soil," said Campbell.
Commenting on the wickets, the Zimbabwe Captain said, "Both Test wickets were good. We expected this type of wickets which is slow, low and turning, will suit your bowlers more. It was just that we did not play well in both Tests," he said.
By 6 p.m. today, A.S. Joachim had completed 855 hours of running in his attempt to break the record of 1000 hours established by Gaiy Rowe of Australia in 1993.
If Joachim breaks this record, he will not only have improved on the distance covered by Rowe of 3,307 kilometers in 1000 hours for a period lasting 42 days by completing 3,495 kilometers as at on Sunday September, 29 at 8 p.m. While Rowe's distance of running 3.30 kilometers per hour Joachim's attempt is 3.49 kilo meters per hour.
The route taken by Joachim is C.W.W. Kannangara Mawatha, Dharmapala Mawatha, Ernest de Silva Mawatha, Cambridge Place and Vihara Maha Devi Park.(AF)
The debate must go on. It's just the characters who keep changing. Was it Sunil Gavaskar? Or Viv Richards? Or Greg Chappell? Or even Barry Richards, a batsman that half the debators had never seen?
They've been talking of Tendulkar and Lara for more than two years now. And when Mark Waugh produces one of his truly sublime innings, he enters that elite group to form a trinity. Waugh, Tendulkar and Lara....
But funnily, the one question that coaches and bowlers around the world are asking doesn't involve either Waugh, Tendulkar or Lara. It involves a small, dark and balding man who, if you saw him strolling on the beach, would hardly generate the picture of the fiercest hitter in the game: Sanath Jayasuriya. The purists seem to look upon him as a passing fancy. One of the reasons for that, and it is a very good reason, is that they don't have to bowl to him.
Jayasuriya just kept slogging away. Or so everyone thought. In reality, this was a brilliant example of a razor-sharp cricket brain at work. Light on his feet, Jayasuriya realized he could swivel and pull anything that was marginally short. The secret was to hit the ball really hard; so hard that a mishit could carry well beyond 30 yards. If the ball was pitched up, it made life that much easier because he could just hit through the line. But there was one aspect of his batting that stumped early observers and that was the margin of error he allowed bowlers.
With the wide rule compelling bowlers to attack the off stump, Jayasuriya began employing the scoop-drive over point. Henry Blo- feld used to love describing that shot as "another scoop of ice cream".
Jayasuriya scooped enough to set up his own retail counter! The only way to prevent him from playing that shot was to bowl absolutely straight and sometimes to have a third man and deep point.
The moment Jayasuriya saw that, however, he was ready to swivel and pick the ball over square leg. It is a shot he plays brilliantly, and shows how well he understands a situation. Invariably, captains had to resort to a long leg and a third man because two men behind square on the leg side was out of question. The moment that kind of field was set, the bowler was in line for a wide.
So how does one stop Jayasuriya? Various theories have been put forward, some have been experimented with and at the moment, I suspect bowlers are waiting for the oldest mode of dismissal in the game; wait till a batsman gets himself out.
The theory the Indians had worked out, and believed could be successful till last week''s onslaught put that thought out of their heads, was to cramp him with a succession of incoming balls. The Indians thought, and so did the Australians, that a square third man was most likely to pick up the frustrated slash that would invariably follow.
One theory suggested was that a fast bowler angle a ball across him from over the wicket at high speed, and try to produce a snick for wicket keeper, two slips and a gully to gobble.
Easier said, because we have seen, both on sub-continental wickets and those in Australia, that the faster a bowler bowls, the faster it seems to disappear off the face of the bat. And Jayasuriya is such a brilliant timer of the ball that even a little push to mid off or mid on could, using the speed of the ball, carry to the boundary.
Then there is the theory of the fast off break bowler bowling just short of a good length on leg and middle and turning the ball enough to make the heave over mid wicket a dangerous shot.
One major problem with that theory is the number of bowlers in the world today who are capable of bowling like that. Kumara Dharmsena of Sri Lanka is probably the best in that category, but he plays for the same side!
Pakistan tried Saqlain Mushtaq, but the brilliant young offspinner is a little too orthodox and tends to throw the ball in the air. The tossed up ball would seem to be the easiest to clobber, and certainly Jayasuriya showed that against Richard Illingworth of England. A gentle left arm spinner against a left hander who can play him with the turn? It was one of the most inexplicable events of the World Cup!
The one bowler in the world who may look to Jayasuriya is Curtly Ambrose. As Dennis Lillee says, Ambrose was born to bowl fast. He has a fantastic temperament, is really mean and bowls a fabulous length.
And if you thought Jayasuriya was a nightmare only for bowlers and captains, you haven't met the community that hates him the most- television cameramen.
In England this year, I was speaking to an experienced cameraman who had covered the tournament in Singapore. "We tried following the ball like we normally do but with this guy, it was impossible. It would fly off the bat and you just didn't know where it was.
Very often, we follow a ball by instinct - but this guy is just too quick. I have never seen a ball take a shorter time to reach the boundary. Within about half an hour the director had abandoned all plans of following the ball. 'Give me the shot and the boundary line, just forget about the rest' - he said. Believe me man, Jayasuriya is a cameraman's worst nightmare!"
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