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Mahela Jayawardene proves that T20 needn’t be a slog-fest with a classical hundred

Mahela Jayawardene proves that T20 need to be a slog-fest with a classical hundred

Mahela Jayawardene (left) opened the batting in absence of the regular opener Shaun Marsh and exemplified his class from the word go. His unbeaten knock of 110 helped Kings XI Punjab chase 200 against Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2010 © AFP

On April 4, 2010, Mahela Jayawardene played a scintillating knock of 110 to help Kings XI Punjab chase an imposing target of 200 against Kolkata Knight Riders. Jayawardene employed finesse and sublime timing in painting his masterpiece at the Eden Gardens. Sarang Bhalerao revisits Jayawardene’s classic knock.

Chris Gayle bludgeoned his way to make a mockery of the Kings XI Punjab bowlers. His 42-ball 88 included a 33-run over off part-time bowler Ravi Bopara. Knight Riders posted a total of 200 at the Eden Gardens and the partisan crowd expected the home team to steam roll Punjab. With the possibility of semi-final qualification hanging by the thread, Kings XI Punjab were fighting against all odds.

Jayawardene opened in absence of the regular opener Shaun Marsh. Jayawardene exemplified his class with the first ball he faced — pitched short and wide by Shane Bond — by cutting with precision between backward point and third man for a boundary. The roll of the wrists at the point of contact was just about perfect.

Jayadev Unadkat shared the new ball with Bond and Jayawardene majestically cut the left-arm pacer’s first ball to the boundary. Two balls later he hit an off-drive by advancing down the track. There was a good mix of traditional and modern in the execution — head position still and left elbow pointing straight, before giving the charge.

Jayawardene cleared his left leg and adroitly used Bond’s pace to pepper the off-side field. Bond looked quizzical and skipper Sourav Ganguly bewildered. Thirty one runs were realised in three overs as Punjab looked to sustain the momentum. The stylish Sri Lankan batsman scored his first leg-side boundary, when he essayed a lofted shot over mid-wicket off Unadkat. At the other end Manvinder Bisla was giving Jayawardene good company. The duo stitched an alliance of 51 runs in 4.5 overs before left-arm spinner Kartik’s arm ball shattered Bisla’s leg stump.

Jayawadene was unperturbed by the loss of his partner. He was a man on a mission. It was a case of “getting a taste of his own medicine” for Gayle. He dished out a full toss, a short ball and a flighted ball on Jayawardene’s pads. His response: a drive towards covers for four, a pull shot for a boundary and a shot that cleared long-on for a six. So far, Jayawardene’s 20-ball cameo had produced 45 runs. Punjab were motoring along. The powerplay overs yielded 69 runs. There was rain in the air, but Punjab were comfortably ahead in the Duckworth-Lewis equation.

Sangakkara took over the role of an aggressor and hammered his compatriot Angelo Mathews for a towering six. When he was on 51, Jayawardene was let-off when he tried to steer Mathews past short third-man, but Kartik dropped a simple chance. This was in the 10th over. Jayawardene plundered 15 off the next five deliveries and Kolkata was at their wits’ end. The drooping shoulders, broken spirits and the surrendered look on their faces told a story. Kolkata were simply unable to put a lid on the scoring rate. After 11 overs, Punjab were 123 for one. David Hussey, part-time tweaker, was introduced into the attack to bowl his round-arm faster deliveries. Jayawardene did not spare him either and deposited him over long-off for a six.

Jayawardene’s innings had shunned any possibility of a miraculous comeback from Kolkata. Ganguly did not give up just yet. He introduced his premier fast bowler Bond into the attack. And that move worked. Bond had Sangakkara beaten with his change of pace. The Punjab captain was caught at long-on. The Kolkata crowd became boisterous and the fall of wicket infused a lot of enthusiasm in them. Bond conceded five runs off the 14th over of the innings. Punjab needed 52 off six overs. Matthew conceded seven off the 15th over. Five overs and 45 to get, the game was heading towards its climax. Jayawardene was batting on 90 off 50 deliveries when he was joined by Yuvraj Singh.

Yuvraj took centre-stage by launching an assault on Ajit Agarkar and Kartik to race to 31 off 14 balls as Punjab needed 13 off the final three overs. In the 18th over, Jayawardene drove Bond wide of long-off and completed two runs to bring about a magnificent 100. Even the opposition’s dugout gave him a standing ovation.

Punjab needed five off the final two overs. Jayawardene promptly dispatched first two deliveries of the 19th over bowled by Unadkat for boundaries and thus engineered a fine run chase. Kolkata were totally outplayed by Jayawardene’s brilliance, whose 57-ball gem highlighted the fact that T20 cricket is not all about slogs and that the shortest format still has place for class players.

Brief scores:  Kolkata Knight Riders 200 for 3 (Chris Gayle 88, Irfan Pathan 1 for 36) lost to Kings XI Punjab 204 for 2 (Mahela Jayawardene 110*, Shane Bond 1 for 32) by eight wickets.

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter @bhaleraosarang)

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