Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sanath Jayasuriya smashes 87 leading Worcester to a comprehensive win


IN A SPIN: Sanath Jayasuriya shows his value with the ball before leading Worcestershire to a convincing nine-wicket victory over Northamptonshire with 87 at New Road.

Sanath Jayasuriya rolled back the years to guide Worcestershire Royals to their first Friends Provident t20 North Group victory in seven matches.

The 40-year-old Sri Lankan legend blasted his way to 87 as the New Road side eased their way to a nine-wicket win over Northamptonshire Steelbacks to end their run of six successive defeats.

While the County remain bottom of the group, the manner of the success, ach-ieved on a balmy night at headquarters, will have undoubtedly boosted their confidence ahead of Sunday’s clash with Derbyshire Falcons (2.30pm).

But this night belonged to the ‘Master Blaster,’ who in just four days will turn 41. Having only scored 21 runs in his three previous innings, Jayasuriya smashed his way to a 28-ball 50, which included hitting Jack Brookes for two fours and three sixes in one over before firing Elton Chigumbura for 30 in another.

His partnership with Australian Phil Jaques had, in previous matches, looked a shaky one, but having suffered their heaviest ever defeat in this competition on Tuesday night at Yorkshire Carnegie, Worcestershire bounced back in superb style.

Jayasuriya’s innings came to an end as he was caught on the boundary by David Willey off Nicky Boje for 87 off 45 balls which saw him hit 10 fours and five sixes, while Jaques hit a season’s Twenty20 best of 47 as he played the supporting role to his partner’s pyrotechnics.

The County had seemed to have been set a testing target of 141 after the Steelbacks 140-5, but Jayasuriya made a mockery of that and showed why Worcestershire brought him to New Road.

Moeen Ali and Jack Shantry shone with the ball for the Royals as they put in one of their better displays in the field.

Off-spinner Moeen was the pick of the County attack as he claimed career-best figures of 3-25 which included two wickets in two balls to remove opener Niall O’Brien for 34 and David Sales for five with a superb catch from youngster Jack Manuel.

But it was the miserly Shantry who had set the tone from the start. His opening three overs went for just six runs and included a maiden in the first.

His spell also saw former County star Chaminda Vaas run out for five by James Cameron, who had put the Sri Lankan down twice in the corresponding fixture.

However, director of cricket Steve Rhodes would have been concerned that his two senior seamers Gareth Andrew and Richard Jones saw their five overs go for 60 between them.

Zimbabawe international Chigumbura was the pick of the Steelbacks batting as he hit 39 off 20 balls including two fours and three sixes.

BBC Radio Northampton's Geoff Doyle:

We wondered whether the wicket was a bit sticky and doing a bit whilst Northants were batting as they didn't quite fire.

But Jayasuriya showed off his supreme class to prove that the wicket was just fine.

A masterclass from the veteran and Northants couldn't handle him. It was a pleasure to witness it.

Northants head coach David Capel told BBC Radio Northampton:

"We posted 140 and that was an inadequate total. Sanath Jayasuriya made it look inadequate. It was an exceptional display.

"There were quite a few dot balls in our first six overs, and we didn't score enough runs.

"Although Elton Chigumbura did well, it took us until the 17th over to get past 100. That's not our target. We want to get there after 12 overs."

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