12 best performances by Sri Lanka’s maverick opener — Sanath Jayasuriya
Alex Hales and Jason Roy have scored 559 runs for England as openers © Getty Images

Sri Lankan southpaw, Sanath Jayasuriya, is indubitably one of the greatest batsmen to have played the game and a superstar from his country. He redefined batting at the top and transformed the notion of opening the batting in shorter formats with his relentless power-hitting and flawless stroke-making. The left-arm spin bowling all-rounder could rip apart the best of bowling attacks and put the opposition over the barrel from the outset. On his 47th birthday, Suraj Choudhari walks down the memory lane and collects 12 best performances by the crafty artist who scripted history with his willow and was adroit in whatever he did. Also Read: Sanath Jayasuriya s 14 jaw-dropping stats across formats

253 vs Pakistan, 1st Test, Sri Lanka tour of Pakistan, 2004: Jayasuriya belongs to rare breed of batsmen who were equally effective across formats and scored briskly irrespective of the conditions. His magnificent hand-eye co-ordination helped him pile massive runs and steer his side to a dominating position. In the first Test at Faisalabad, Jayasuriya plundered a valiant 253 runs in the second innings on a pitch which was difficult to bat on. His knock helped Sri Lanka post 438 runs on the board and further win the Test by 201 runs. He smashed 33 boundaries and four sixes as Pakistani bowlers had a tough time in dealing with his manic approach.

340 vs India, 1st Test, India in Sri Lanka, 1997: Sri Lanka fought fire with fire in this Test and went on to create history at Colombo. After India posted a massive total of 537 in the first innings, Sri Lanka came out all guns blazing and recorded the highest Test score ever with Jayasuriya being the tormentor-in-chief. Sri Lanka posted 952 runs in the game which resulted in a draw. Jayasuriya fired 340 runs and also accounted for the then highest Test partnership of 576 runs with Roshan Mahanama.

63 vs Australia, 2007 World Cup Final (ODI): Though Sri Lanka lost the thrilling final to Australia, this knock by Jayasuriya will always be remembered in the history of World Cups. He played with unmatched confidence against the formidable line up of Australia and scored 63 off 67 deliveries while chasing a target of 269 from 36 overs. (D/L method).

134 vs Pakistan, 1st match, Singer Cup, 1996 (ODI): Jayasuriya was unstoppable in this inning as he went berserk right from the start against Pakistan in Singapore. He came out hard and got the ball rolling from the very first over. Jayasuriya smacked 134 from 65 deliveries on a pitch where all other batsmen just managed good starts but were not able to convert it into big scores. Riding on his marvellous outing, Sri Lanka thumped 350 runs on the board and won the game by 34 runs.

189 vs India, Coca-Cola Champions Trophy Final, 2000 (ODI): Jayasuriya recorded his finest score in ODI cricket in a high-voltage final against India. He soaked in the pressure and wrecked havoc at Sharjah with his mammoth knock of 189 from 161 deliveries which included 21 boundaries and four sixes. India had absolutely no reply to this and were left bewildered as the damage inflicted by Jayasuriya was massive. India were dismantled were for a mere score of 54 as a result of which Sri Lanka won the contest by 245 runs, which was also the then highest victory in terms of runs.

76 vs Pakistan, Singer Cup Final, 1996 (ODI): This game saw a world record being broken as Jayasuriya walloped the then fastest ODI fifty which came in just 17 deliveries. He reached his half-century with a six over mid-wicket, to beat Simon O’Donnell‘s record of 18 balls, which came against Sri Lanka itself. While chasing a target of 216, Sri Lanka were bowled for 172 as Jayasuriya was the lone-ranger from his side. Interestingly, when Sri Lanka lost their first wicket for a score of 70, Romesh Kaluwitharana did not even have a solitary run to his name as Jayasuriya took charge and scored all the runs.

151* vs India, 4th game of Pepsi Independence Cup, 1997 (ODI): Jayasuriys a combative innings of 151 not out at Wankhede knocked India out of the Independence Cup. While hunting a target of 226 in 50 overs under huge pressure, Jayasuriya kept his cool and murdered the Indian bowling attack. The six batters that batted with Jayasuriya accounted for just 65 runs from 127 balls whereas the elegant southpaw romped Sri Lanka home to another scintillating victory in the 41st over with his pristine knock which came in just 120 deliveries.

213 vs England, Only Test, Sri Lanka in England, 1998: A century in English conditions is always special and a double ton by a tourist is exceptional. Jayasuriya stunned his harshest critics when he made mockery of the bowling attack which hailed of Darren Gough, Dominic Cork and Angus Fraser at The Oval. After England challenged Sri Lanka to follow their trail of 445 in the first innings, Jayasuriya grabbed the headlines with an innings which boasted of 33 boundaries and a maximum. England were at sixes and sevens when Jayasuriya was dismissed at the team s score of 320 for the loss of three wickets. Later, Muttiah Muralitharan ran through the English line-up and scalped nine wickets to see his side registering a thumping 10-wicket victory against England in their own den.

82 vs England, 1st quarter-final, 1996 World Cup: Jayasuriya was a big-match player; he often bailed his team out on big occasions and had a knack of performing in crunch situations. In the first quarter-final against England at Faisalabad, Jayasuriya steered his side to the driving seat with a determined knock of 82 while chasing 236 in 50 overs. His 44-ball 82 was a testament to his ability to remain unaffected to the immense pressure. He blasted 13 boundaries and three sixes on the big stage and made a name for himself. He also recorded the then fastest World Cup fifty, which came in just 30 balls as Sri Lanka won the game by 5 wickets.

78 vs England, 1st Test, England in Sri Lanka, 2007: Jayasuriya bid adieu to Test cricket in his own style and lived upto his reputation as he fired a brisk 78 at Kandy. He pierced the gaps and punched six graceful boundaries in a single over and the victim was none other than James Anderson. Sri Lanka gave Jayasuriya a memorable farewell by registering a fine victory. They won by 88 runs.

6 for 29 vs England, 2nd ODI, England in Sri Lanka, 1993: During the initial stages of his career, Jayasuriya was known as a bowler who could bat a bit. Later he transformed himself into a top-order batsman but his bowling was very effective as his tally of 421 international wickets places him in the league of best all-rounders. In the second ODI at Moratuwa, Jayasuriya ripped apart the English attack with his guile and recorded the finest performance with figures of six for 29 in 9.5 overs. England were taken to pieces at a mere score of 180 and Sri Lanka won the encounter convincingly by eight wickets.

51* vs New Zealand, 1st game of Sri Lanka in New Zealand T20I series, 2006: Jayasuriya was tailor-made for the format of uncertainties like T20. His belligerent style of play would have made him a superstar of this format had he been born a decade later. T20 cricket saw a rise in the international circuit when Jayasuriya was in the climax of his career. One of his best innings in the format came against New Zealand where he launched an attack on the Kiwis and plundered 51 from just 23 deliveries. Sri Lanka were chasing 162 in 20 overs with rain clouds looming over Wellington. Jayasuriya stuck to his guns and smashed 10 boundaries and sent the ball sailing over the big boundary on one occasion to help Sri Lanka score 62/1 in 5.5 overs. Rain played the spoilsport and Sri Lanka were adjudged winners by a margin of 18 runs (D/L method).

(Suraj Choudhari, an avid cricket follower who plays the sport at club level, is a staffer with CricLife)