KARACHI: Sri Lanka’s progress through to the Super Eight has been courtesy their opener who is not called Tillekaratne Dilshan.
Former captain Mahela Jayawardene has stolen the limelight away from his more aggressive compatriot in a tournament that has fetched him 181 runs-including a 63-ball century-in only two matches. While Dilshan was expected to carry his player-of-thetournament form from last year’s event, a 19-ball three in the tournament-opener and a scratchy two against Zimbabwe rings warning bells for Sri Lanka. But Jayawardene’s antics with the bat has meant no other batsmen has either had the overs or the need to make their presence felt.
Worrying though, for Sri Lanka, is the thought of failure from Jayawardene. Losing their star off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan to an injury meant extra emphasis was placed on Ajantha Mendis’ shoulder but he has only been able to capture a solitary wicket from six overs. The fast bowlers, too, have not been able to contribute significantly and it will take an extra effort to stop West Indies captain Chris Gayle from his usual onslaught at the top of the order.
West Indies’ bowling that restricted Ireland to a recordlow of 68, was thrashed to all parts by Eoin Morgan and Luke Wright before rain came to the hosts’ rescue. Darren Sammy remains the highest wickettaker with five. Inconsistency remains a worry for Ravi Rampaul as well who followed up his three-wicket haul by giving away 52 runs off his three overs against England.
Kieron Pollard, the hosts’ trump card in the middle order, has been kept quiet so far but judging by his Indian Premier League form, it will not take long for the hard-hitter to become the centre of attraction. Gayle, who was forced to sit out the team’s opening match, showed glimpses of his attacking form but last year’s repeat of his brutality against Brett Lee is what the team management will be needing if the hosts want to progress to the semi-finals.