Sharjah: Pastings, pastings, pastings, except for a brief period of play in between, that was what one witnessed on Sunday at the Sharjah Cricket Ground in the final of the Sharjah tri-nation Coca Cola Cup.It was Jayasuriya all the way. From ball one, one got the feeling that there was something magical in store. And magical did it turn out to be? Well, Jayasuriya's knock of 189 of 161 deliveries cannot be termed as any thing less than sublime.Opting to take first strike, despite the due factor, Sri Lanka soared on the wings of Jayasuriya to dizzy heights in the first ten overs but the departure of Kaluwitharana pulled them back slightly.
But despite the setback Sri Lanka maintained a very healthy run rate until there was a change of fortune.The in-form Atapattu was unfortunate to get run out at the non striker's end when a rasping Jayasuriya shot tipped Tendulkar's fingers on its way to the stumps. This dismissal followed by the departure of yet another in-form batsman in Jayawardena considerably slowed down the run rate, which got India right back into the game.The departure of Sangakkara had India right on top but the wily Russel Arnold walked into the scene with confidence oozing all over.
This eased things to a great extent for Jayasuriya and he in the company of Arnold once again resurrected the Sri Lanka cause. And resurrection it was, with even greater sting and venom for the Indians were left licking their wounds. The Jayasuriya-Arnold partnership realised 166 runs at a whirlwind pace. While it is but natural to focus all of ones attention on Jayasuriya for such was his impact on the game, one must not fail to mention the equally important role that Arnold played.
Arnold instilled such a calming effect on the game with his crafty batting and outstanding cricketing sense that, to tell Sri Lanka might have been in a real trouble without his effort is an under statement. His knock of 52 of 62 deliveries is as priceless as Jayasuriya's effort. However to write off India with the likes of Ganguly, Tendulkar will be foolhardy.