Jayawardene ready for Twenty20 against England

Published: Wednesday, June 14, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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England:Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene showed he was ready for his country's Twenty20 debut against England by striking two sixes and 12 fours off the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) Masters side.

Jayawardene's 35-ball 79 took the tourists to 180 for three from 16 overs before persistent rain forced the warm-up fixture to be abandoned.

But by then the Sri Lanka skipper and fellow senior batsmen Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara had all shown an aptitude for the shortest form of the game.

It all left Sri Lanka assistant coach Trevor Penney in a positive mood ahead of his team's international Twenty20 debut against England at the Rose Bowl on Thursday.

"Mahela really got everyone going when he got out there and charged down the wicket first ball," Penney said of the Sri Lanka number three.

Together with Jayasuriya he put on 75 in a little more than five overs after the former skipper had made a relatively slow start.

But Jayasuriya, one of the most dynamic of all limited-overs batsmen, was soon into his stride as the crowd at one of England's most picturesque venues, set in the grounds of Arundel Castle, were treated to a barrage of boundaries.

"I think Sanath really just wanted to get in - and we know he can catch up any time, as he soon showed," former Warwickshire batsman Penney explained.

It was not until the 15th ball of the innings that Jayasuriya's opening partner Chamara Kapugedera provided Sri Lanka's first boundary, with a well-timed push on the up past cover off West Indies paceman Vasbert Drakes.

The teenager nicked one behind off former England all-rounder Chris Lewis in the fourth over, and by the end of the fifth there was still only a paltry 24 for one on the board.

But Sri Lanka accelerated in the next over, with Jayasuriya plundering 16 of the 21 runs to come off Lewis - and by the time current England off-spinner Shaun Udal came on for the 10th over, the total had rocketed to 95.

It was then that Sri Lanka lost Jayasuriya when Jayawardene insisted on a single off the left-hander's bat to short fine-leg - leaving the opener short of his ground following a throw from Drakes

After Jayawardene was bowled by Udal, Sangakkara weighed in before the weather finished off the match to the disappointment of a responsive crowd of more than 3,000.

Penney, pleased with the form of the Sri Lanka batsmen after the tourists' two defeats in their 50-overs-a-side warm-ups against Essex and Somerset, said: "There was some really good batting there, so we're really pleased from the coaching side of things. A couple of batters really played well.

"It's a shame it had to end there - I wanted to see the other side bat as well," the Zimbabwean added.

After Thursday's match, Sri Lanka - who drew their recent Test series in England 1-1 - begin a five-match one-day international series with their hosts at Lord's on Saturday.

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