April 25, 2007

Mahela, intelligence and ingenuity

ESPNcricinfo staff
Why Mahela's hundred in the semi-final is one of the cleverest in the history of the World Cup
121

Have you ever played book cricket? I don’t know if young people play it these days but when I was growing up in Calcutta in the 1970s, it was all we used to play in school between classes. In case you don’t know the rules, this is how it goes. The game demands that you open a book at random and look at the page number of the left-hand side page that has fallen open. (Why the left-hand side page? I don’t know. Well, why not?) The last digit of the page number (‘4’ if it is 224, ‘2’ if it is 82 and so on) gives you the number of runs you score. You go on doing this (and adding to your total) until a page falls open in which the last digit is 0 (say, 60; or whatever). Then you’re out. You could play in teams of four or six or one against the other.

You could also, if you were on your own – as I frequently was at home – play it by yourself. I’d organize a fully-fledged game between two Test-playing nations and bat for both teams. Book cricket offers immense scope for cheating. If the page falls open at, say 40, just leave it there a second, look away, the pages will riffle and, in a second, would have turned to 44. Result: the batsman who ought to have been out would have added four to his score. In this devious and not entirely original manner, I managed to make my favourite batsmen score many more centuries than they ever did in their careers.

Now the point of this long-winded story is that not even the most ardent Mahela Jayawardene fans, were he to be as big a cheater at book cricket as I used to be, would have dared give him the kind of innings in his make-believe game as Jayawardene played yesterday. There was about it something of the boys’ own adventure story, of perfect timing (not just in the shots he played during the innings but also in the moment when the innings arrived), of drama, suspense, joy, seeking and finding and fulfillment.

It must be one of the cleverest, most intelligent innings in the history of the World Cup. There have been greater innings, like Tendulkar’s against Pakistan at Centurion four years ago. There have been innings with more swashbuckle and imperiousness, like Viv Richards’ 138 in the 1979 final. There have been grittier ones, like Steve Waugh’s 120 in the 1999. And there have been more brutal ones, like Matthew Hayden’s 66-ball hundred against South Africa in this tournament.

But for sheer ingenuity and cleverness, in the wind-up to it – as much through the tournament as during the innings itself – Mahela’s innings was peerless. He had scored 41 runs in four innings against India just before the World Cup. He failed against both India and South Africa in this championship. Then came 82 against the West Indies and 56 against England.

Yesterday, he had at one stage 6 from 30-odd balls. He had 22 from his first 50. And he ended with 115 not out from 109. It wasn’t so much that his strike-rate went above a hundred in the end. It was the manner in which it did, with the twirls and the steers and the immaculate way in which he threaded the field, the imperturbable, sublime intelligence of it all.

Sitting on our living-room sofas, we fans talk so much about how innings should be paced, about the value of batting right through and having wickets in hand for the final charge. Mahela’s innings should make us all shut the hell up and just watch: if this sort of thing is so rare at that level of sport, imagine how difficult it must be.

Given the way in which Mahela’s campaign – from before the World Cup and during it – has unfolded, yesterday’s big-game big innings was a fitting culmination.

Now why on earth did I say something as silly as that?

Soumya Bhattacharya is the editor of Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He is the author of two volumes of cricketing memoirs - You Must Like Cricket? and All That You Can't Leave Behind - and a novel, If I Could Tell You

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Lakmini Mallawarachchi on May 16, 2007, 13:59 GMT

    Srilanka should be proud of having such a fantastic player.What a marvellous game he played against in Newzealand!What a great stoke to lead towards the finals!Congratulations for the brilliant effort!

  • ha gomes on May 9, 2007, 17:28 GMT

    We played book cricket also in the West Indies in the 80's but it was slightly different with us we would call out left 12 open the book at random count 12 lines down the "left" page and how so wever much letters made up the first word on that line meant the number of runs you scored. However if the first letter began with B or C or H or R meant you were bowled or caught or hitwicket or run out etc.

    It was fun and yes we did have Richards scoring centuries and even one time Michael Holding managed a century. It was fun!!!!

  • Aussie on April 28, 2007, 23:43 GMT

    So SOWMYA, Hope you watched the match. Hope you watched the brilliant exclusive knock of Gilly. Credit to SL too, because they worked very hard till the end, not like INDIA surrendering. Go INDIA, Learn to GILLY and SANATH, How to play in pressure situations. All your anti aussie campaign comes to tame end. thats reality, thats just the way it is, things will never be the same. LONG LIVE AUSSIE and THEIR LEGACY

  • Bunker Buster on April 28, 2007, 5:07 GMT

    Excellent article Soumya! It is as sweet as your name.

    I think Australia has been playing all their games in top gear so far irrespective of their opposition, a fact reflected in their results. They have been in climax for far too long and we all know what follows that.

    Sri Lanka in comparison, have applied different 'gears' to different situations and haven't really tried to overdo things. I believe Sri Lanka haven't applied their top gear in this tournament yet - not even in the Semis. Now we all know that we do not require special reasons to play well against Australia and in a World Cup Final they will be awesome.

    So, our foreplay will end & we will reach new highs today.

    The world will see the MIGHT of LIONS as they go on yet another marsupial hunt!

    Sri Lanka will end the Australian domination in the World Cup cricket.

    I think Jayasuriya & Murali will be our heros in this match.

  • Cricket Fan on April 28, 2007, 1:13 GMT

    It is quite obvious that India are hopelss when they play outside the country.

  • Inderpal on April 27, 2007, 18:58 GMT

    Indian fan by birth. But that knock of Mahela made me an instant SL fan. Dravid needs to do some learning from Mahela, as i recall Dravid was in exact situation againg SL in this tournament. I think the whole world is hoping SL beats aussies, even the australians, as the team has no sportsmanship left in them.

  • Ashok The "Kaash" on April 27, 2007, 16:19 GMT

    Too much and too soon. Wait for the final to take place and his innings will gain or loose perspective as things unfold. I think we all give too much attention as to how his innings was paced etc..but having played quite a lot of cricket myself "when your on song(form) and at the crease things just happen.." no batsman or even a bowler plans his complete stay at the crease...bcos it could all go wrong in a moment..and probably of it all happening again is rare whether its tendulkar or any other player.

  • Prodigal on April 27, 2007, 16:09 GMT

    Srilanka should be very proud of their achievement regardless of how the final encounter with the Aussies turns out. While I always believed that NZ had a chance to break the Semi-Final jinx this time around, as admitted by their own captain , the team is made of bits and pieces players who can perfrom very well on their day. However, looking at the SL team one gets a different feeling. They may not have a world class alrounder like the Australians do but they have a world class spinner ,one of the best wicket-keeper batsmen, an astute and a performing captain, a genuine fast bowler with a confounding action and more importantly they are a team that has been performing fairly consistently and seem to enjoy the game. I am sure they will challenge the Australians this Saturday. However, after seeing the SA vs Aus Semi , I think my prediction on who is gonna win or how close the match is gonna be is only as good as anyone's wild guess. I wish the Saturday's match is a treat for the viewers going down to the wire. I personally root for Lankans but I wont like it if the finals turns out to be an one-sided affair for the SL team - I know it sounds very odd for most of you...But as we all know, anything can happen in a span of 1 hour in this funny game called 1 Day Cricket.

  • Ali on April 27, 2007, 15:42 GMT

    Soumya, Firstly about your writing on book cricket, It took me to my own childhood in Pakistan when I used to do the same play whole test match series betwwwn test team (most of the times Pakistan vs India who else) and then copy and maintain stats. Same age same hobbies, our childhood before age the computer games and play stations.

    Coming to Mahels's innings in the semi finals, The only thing I can compare the sublime timing is with Arvinda Deslava's innings in the 1996 world cup semi-final and final. If Mahela does what Arvinda did in 1996, he is gonna be my favourite batsman for some time to come.

  • dulan de silva on April 27, 2007, 15:28 GMT

    Manjula,Vanny Get Real

    Hayden -Jayairiya -Hayden (average /strike rate/form) gilcherst-taranga -Gilcherst Sangakara-Ponting -ponting (average, strike rate) Mahale -Clark -even Dilshan-Symonds-Symonds (I cannot believe anyone say even on this for batting!) Arnold-Watson-Watson Vass-MacGrath- MacGrath (any way you look at) Malinga-Tait- even Mahroof-Bracken-Bracken Murali-Hogg-Murali

    So get real on form and capability it is Australia but in one day cricket anything can happen on a single day.

  • Lakmini Mallawarachchi on May 16, 2007, 13:59 GMT

    Srilanka should be proud of having such a fantastic player.What a marvellous game he played against in Newzealand!What a great stoke to lead towards the finals!Congratulations for the brilliant effort!

  • ha gomes on May 9, 2007, 17:28 GMT

    We played book cricket also in the West Indies in the 80's but it was slightly different with us we would call out left 12 open the book at random count 12 lines down the "left" page and how so wever much letters made up the first word on that line meant the number of runs you scored. However if the first letter began with B or C or H or R meant you were bowled or caught or hitwicket or run out etc.

    It was fun and yes we did have Richards scoring centuries and even one time Michael Holding managed a century. It was fun!!!!

  • Aussie on April 28, 2007, 23:43 GMT

    So SOWMYA, Hope you watched the match. Hope you watched the brilliant exclusive knock of Gilly. Credit to SL too, because they worked very hard till the end, not like INDIA surrendering. Go INDIA, Learn to GILLY and SANATH, How to play in pressure situations. All your anti aussie campaign comes to tame end. thats reality, thats just the way it is, things will never be the same. LONG LIVE AUSSIE and THEIR LEGACY

  • Bunker Buster on April 28, 2007, 5:07 GMT

    Excellent article Soumya! It is as sweet as your name.

    I think Australia has been playing all their games in top gear so far irrespective of their opposition, a fact reflected in their results. They have been in climax for far too long and we all know what follows that.

    Sri Lanka in comparison, have applied different 'gears' to different situations and haven't really tried to overdo things. I believe Sri Lanka haven't applied their top gear in this tournament yet - not even in the Semis. Now we all know that we do not require special reasons to play well against Australia and in a World Cup Final they will be awesome.

    So, our foreplay will end & we will reach new highs today.

    The world will see the MIGHT of LIONS as they go on yet another marsupial hunt!

    Sri Lanka will end the Australian domination in the World Cup cricket.

    I think Jayasuriya & Murali will be our heros in this match.

  • Cricket Fan on April 28, 2007, 1:13 GMT

    It is quite obvious that India are hopelss when they play outside the country.

  • Inderpal on April 27, 2007, 18:58 GMT

    Indian fan by birth. But that knock of Mahela made me an instant SL fan. Dravid needs to do some learning from Mahela, as i recall Dravid was in exact situation againg SL in this tournament. I think the whole world is hoping SL beats aussies, even the australians, as the team has no sportsmanship left in them.

  • Ashok The "Kaash" on April 27, 2007, 16:19 GMT

    Too much and too soon. Wait for the final to take place and his innings will gain or loose perspective as things unfold. I think we all give too much attention as to how his innings was paced etc..but having played quite a lot of cricket myself "when your on song(form) and at the crease things just happen.." no batsman or even a bowler plans his complete stay at the crease...bcos it could all go wrong in a moment..and probably of it all happening again is rare whether its tendulkar or any other player.

  • Prodigal on April 27, 2007, 16:09 GMT

    Srilanka should be very proud of their achievement regardless of how the final encounter with the Aussies turns out. While I always believed that NZ had a chance to break the Semi-Final jinx this time around, as admitted by their own captain , the team is made of bits and pieces players who can perfrom very well on their day. However, looking at the SL team one gets a different feeling. They may not have a world class alrounder like the Australians do but they have a world class spinner ,one of the best wicket-keeper batsmen, an astute and a performing captain, a genuine fast bowler with a confounding action and more importantly they are a team that has been performing fairly consistently and seem to enjoy the game. I am sure they will challenge the Australians this Saturday. However, after seeing the SA vs Aus Semi , I think my prediction on who is gonna win or how close the match is gonna be is only as good as anyone's wild guess. I wish the Saturday's match is a treat for the viewers going down to the wire. I personally root for Lankans but I wont like it if the finals turns out to be an one-sided affair for the SL team - I know it sounds very odd for most of you...But as we all know, anything can happen in a span of 1 hour in this funny game called 1 Day Cricket.

  • Ali on April 27, 2007, 15:42 GMT

    Soumya, Firstly about your writing on book cricket, It took me to my own childhood in Pakistan when I used to do the same play whole test match series betwwwn test team (most of the times Pakistan vs India who else) and then copy and maintain stats. Same age same hobbies, our childhood before age the computer games and play stations.

    Coming to Mahels's innings in the semi finals, The only thing I can compare the sublime timing is with Arvinda Deslava's innings in the 1996 world cup semi-final and final. If Mahela does what Arvinda did in 1996, he is gonna be my favourite batsman for some time to come.

  • dulan de silva on April 27, 2007, 15:28 GMT

    Manjula,Vanny Get Real

    Hayden -Jayairiya -Hayden (average /strike rate/form) gilcherst-taranga -Gilcherst Sangakara-Ponting -ponting (average, strike rate) Mahale -Clark -even Dilshan-Symonds-Symonds (I cannot believe anyone say even on this for batting!) Arnold-Watson-Watson Vass-MacGrath- MacGrath (any way you look at) Malinga-Tait- even Mahroof-Bracken-Bracken Murali-Hogg-Murali

    So get real on form and capability it is Australia but in one day cricket anything can happen on a single day.

  • uds on April 27, 2007, 10:41 GMT

    Hey maveric! Pretty childsh stuff from you,The aussies are good and so are sri lanka,and it's gonna be a fair fight,as for the indian team start off by atleast trying to beat bangladesh.. C'mon you asians get together for tomorrow, give some support to the sri lankans,we should do it no matter who it is india,pakistan or bangladesh! Good luck to the humble but great sri lankans,may luck favour you tomorrow!

  • Vanny on April 27, 2007, 10:30 GMT

    Manjula see this , ok, The Batting Match-Up Jayasuriya versus Hayden - even Tharanga versus Gilchrist - Gilchrist Sangakkara versus Clarke - Sangakkara Jayawardene versus Ponting - even Silva versus Hussey - Hussey Dishan versus Symonds - Symonds Arnold versus Watson - even

    The Bowling Match Up Vaas versus McGrath - even Malinga versus Tait - even Maharoof versus Bracken - Bracken Muralitharan versus Hogg - Murali

    Verdict - Match is on Knife edge World Cup Goes to the team who plays better cricket.

    Ok Mr manjula, i think you live with some fictious imaginations. Compare as per talent and results. You compared Vaas and Bracken shows your childish behaviour. + you compared Mcgrath with maharoof. Mcgrath is light yrs ahead of Maharoof.

  • Justin on April 27, 2007, 9:14 GMT

    Manjula see this , ok, The Batting Match-Up Jayasuriya versus Hayden - even Tharanga versus Gilchrist - Gilchrist Sangakkara versus Ponting - even Jayawardene versus Clarke - even Silva versus Hussey - Hussey Dishan versus Symonds - Symonds Arnold versus Watson - even

    The Bowling Match Up Vaas versus Bracken - even Malinga versus Tait - even Maharoof versus Mcgrath - Mcgrath Muralitharan versus Hogg - Murali

    Verdict - Match is on Knife edge World Cup Goes to the team who plays better cricket.

    Ok Mr manjula, the SL fanatic

  • Vineeth Rai on April 27, 2007, 8:15 GMT

    Simply Brilliant ! What More Can One Say !!!!I was fortunate enough to witness Mahela's "GLORIOUS DISPLAY" and I'm sure it would have given more than a billion of cricket viewers and emerging cricketers an abject lesson on how to construct an innings under tremendous pressure with a world cup final just one game away. I have also seen many other great knocks played by so many illustrious cricketers but given the context of the game and especially knowing well the fall of his wicket could have easily exposed the fragile middle order, I can't help but heap unprecedented praise on this little fella who gave us all a sheer class of cricketing artistry despite of standing just inches above the bat with a physique not so wider than a current day bat. Amazing it was to be honest. Well Done Sri Lanka a billion good luck wishes are with you come Saturday and we are quietly confident that ASIA will be third time lucky !!! We dearly want our big hearted and spirited neighbor to do well and progress as a country. Well finally it's my wishful thinking that some day we get to see a lankan parliament headed by Ms Arjuna Ranatunga as President with Ms Mahela as Prime Minister incharge of Education, Defence and Finance, Ms Aravinda De Silva as Foreign Minister, Ms Muralitharan as Cultural Minister, Ms Jayasuriya as Sports Minister and Ms Chaminda Vaas as Religious Minister - I'm sure these guys would do a heck of a lot better as they have done all their lives. Over to you Sri Lanka !!!

    Jeddah Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

  • Mir on April 27, 2007, 6:29 GMT

    Sorry to say but the truth of the matter is different. In the first semi finals between SL and NewZland, the umpires Rudy and Sam did not make mistakes it was a clear cut V A M P I R I N G !!!!!

    The ICC is absolutely Racist and prejudice in their control, as we can see from the experience and practices, particularly Malcom Speed! Specially last year from Oval Test(Pak vs Eng) and SA vs Pak also. Good Lord takes care of them differently .... the out comes of the game !!!!!!!!!

  • VisN on April 27, 2007, 6:21 GMT

    We've have been getting games that are sorta over by the 25th over because of these regulations that are making it easier to score runs ... and thus lose wickets early. Then all momentum is lost and if you're batting first like South Africa was, you get desperate because the other team has the same opportunity to whack the ball in their power plays and the game will get away from you quickly. New Zealand in their second innings was squeezed, and they imploded. Like a train that starts of slowly, Mahela was able to pull away and build a momentum that was hard for NZ to stop. Kallis's plays a bit like that, except it is never smart cricket.

    I am so tired of cricket where the newer rules and the subsequent science and brutality applied to these requlations are allowing the batsmen to make 330+ runs on a regular basis, and thus having the opposition team whilst on the same wicket, having to maintain a high risk game in order to give themselves a chance of making the runs. Wickets often get lost early, and then the tv is switched of early.

    We need the game where the openers see of the new ball bowlers, and then start piling the runs. It must'nt be just a batsmans game because in their fielding innings it will be their bowlers game. We need a contest.

  • sanjaya on April 27, 2007, 3:44 GMT

    The inning played by mahela at the semi is amazing. I was watching the match with a large crowd and at the beginning most of the people were scolding and yelling about the slow batting style. But Mahela managed that at the end not only making their mouth shut but also generating appraisals.

  • The cricket fan on April 27, 2007, 3:32 GMT

    As a cricket fan and a player, I couldn't have experienced a better innings than Mahela's century in the semi. Also, the way all the players build partnerships shows how mature this team is.

    So, all the best and what ever the result is in the finals, the SL team have made us very proud. Go Lanka all the way!

  • Rohan on April 27, 2007, 2:41 GMT

    Good work Mahela & Co. You have already answered Amnesty International (lousy 2nd grade people who loves to bully small nations) by coming to the finals. We always play according to the rules. Take Amnesty as a good motivating factor to win the world cup as well. Best of luck.

  • salman on April 27, 2007, 0:43 GMT

    Hafeez you got a point with the umpires. I would go one step further and say that umpires should not be given so much power. With modern technology, the third umpire should be forced to correct bad umpiring decisions on the spot. The two decisions were the worst i have ever seen. It was like both the umpires didnt want Sri Lanka to reach the finals. Or did the bookmakers get to the umpires this time?? Is corruption deeper than we think? Bring in the computers and take the umpires out!! Howzat!!

  • Nick on April 26, 2007, 22:49 GMT

    Mahela a gem of an innings. I met Mahela about 6 years ago in Sydney, a very grounded and nice person. Couldnt have happened to a more humble person. Sananth please dont get nervous in the final, just take the bowlers apart like your capable of and give us a century. Either way we love you, but please go out and play your natural game and if its close to your stumps dont swing unneccesarily.

  • wajid on April 26, 2007, 21:10 GMT

    while mahela's was a great knock, nothing better than javed miandad's famous hundred with the last ball six against india at sharjah...wonder if the indian psyche is still hurting with that last bll six otherwise it would have also been included in the great innings of waugh, hayden,viv richards and tendulkar.ofcourse there is nothing like that in the world cup ever not even mahela's great knock...;)

  • RSN on April 26, 2007, 21:03 GMT

    "why left hand page of the book??" that's where you have even numbers silly! if you looked at the right, the batsman will never get out!..

    coming back to mahela - it was a good innings.if bond had taken the catch, things would have been entirely different.but there are no ifs and buts in cricket.

    your last statement regarding culmination is a tacit assumption of the way final is going to go!

  • Raj on April 26, 2007, 17:41 GMT

    Because of knocks like Mahela's, when sunday arrives, we will be celebrating a sri lankan victory! All hail the lankans. World cup 2007 Winners

  • Raj on April 26, 2007, 17:11 GMT

    I feel mahela is very intelligent captain when compare to all other captains playing this world cup, the way he selects the team for matches and how he approaches his plans during the game is incredible, he is very thinking Capitan and all the players in his team are playing as a strong unit and he backs his players lot. This team will give tough time for Australia in the final and may well clinch the world cup.

  • Gulzeb Niazi on April 26, 2007, 16:19 GMT

    The innings was magnificent. I fail to understand how none of Inzamam's innings show up when drawign comparison with other innings. I know he hasn't done much in World Cups apart from '92 semifinal, but he has masterminded the pace of many innings splendidly.

  • manjula on April 26, 2007, 16:04 GMT

    The Batting Match-Up Jayasuriya versus Hayden - even Tharanga versus Gilchrist - Gilchrist Sangakkara versus Ponting - even Jayawardene versus Clarke - even Silva versus Hussey - even Dishan versus Symonds - even Arnold versus Watson - even

    The Bowling Match Up Vaas versus Bracken - Vaas Malinga versus Tait - Malinga Maharoof versus Mcgrath - Mcgrath Muralitharan versus Hogg - Murali

    Verdict - The best bowling side wins World Cup Goes to Sri Lanka

  • Urmilla on April 26, 2007, 15:42 GMT

    I think Sri Lankan players always played smart and credits go to the entire Sri Lankan Team. I just want tell you does not matter what happens on saturday, you Sri Lankan team has entertained us well and along with my family we were fortunate to watch this world class performaces by you. Thank you again for putting Sri Lankan name in the world map with style. For Subash Dilruk Kannangara, for your comment on Sri Lanka's army Oh my god where have you been don't you watch news how many people (innocent tamils) are being killed every day and chased out of their own homes in eastern province, please don't say anything about Sri Lankan army about their ruthless experience and do not spoil this world cup victory moment. Finaly for you Sri Lankan cricket team, I wish you all the very best on Saturday, hope you bring us again the world cup trophy. Good Luck!!!

  • iron LION zion on April 26, 2007, 14:58 GMT

    Way to go Mahela!! That was a solid piece of batsmanship. Way to go Team Si Lanka. We may not be extremely emotional like the Indians or the Pakistanis.But the whole nation watched the semis with bated breath, a lot of heart palpilations and frustrated curses.New Zealand was 105-2 and Styris looked as if he'd stay till the games end. Enter Dilshan...! Enter Murali with his magical Doosra.... and that's how the cookie crumbled.People went back to work after two hours of sleep..bloodshot eyes and wide grins and WOW being repeated at every conversation.At business luncheons profitability was forgotten and CRICKET ruled the day.Every person was a Cricket specialist be it your gardner,your grand ma or the person seated next to you in a crowded bus. Even the people in the North decided to call it day and watch a different kind of battle. So at least while the match was going on the country was united!!! Thank you Mahela and the Gang for bringing joy to 20 million Sri Lankans,be it a Sinhalese Buddhist a Tamil Hindu, a Mussulman or a catholic Dutch Burgher.

    We wish you all the best for the Finals. It doesn't matter if you won or lost.what matters is How you Played the Game. I believe that all of you played wonderfully.No matter whatever happens on the 28th you will be welcomed with open arms.

    Australia is the BEST team in the world ,with regard to their allround performance and cosistency.I wish them luck too. But.....there is always room for a Miracle. And you can DO IT. GO SRI LANKA..I HEAR THE LIONS ROARING....!

  • Chat on April 26, 2007, 11:37 GMT

    Yes it is a wonderfull 100 from a self confidant player. I think we must also give lots of credit to Chamara Silva, Dilshan and Russal for helping Mahela to change his gear.

  • Subash Dilruk Kannangara on April 26, 2007, 11:21 GMT

    First of all I must say I am a great supporter of Mahela. There are many reasons for that. I have played Cricket & Carefully following it. Mahela has many things that are concerned in batting. 1. He is technically good but not too technical like Marvan. 2. He is aggressive but not too aggressive like Sanath. 3. He has great capability to adjust to the conditions. In this particular scenario he has to be patient initially and then open his shoulders. He has played similar inning to beat England in Australia scoring a century and win the match. In the same match Murali had been called for no balling by Ross Emerson. I was very much delighted on his performance because there is a great myth here in Sri Lankan public and some media personnel that we cannot win a match without sanath been scoring heavily. In many occasions others have contributed but not impressed the blind spectators. The reason is sanath score his runs by hitting the ball hard whether it is a boundary or not. Others scoring runs by working the balls around. I don't see any different of these particular efforts as far as you win the match at the end. Perhaps you may loose in a narrow margin. After he failed in 2003 encounter I argued with my friends he must be continue to play where our selectors too think same. People who identified Mahela's class will not object on his performance. Once Ranjan Madugalle said that living example for Mahela is Tendulkar. He should not threw his bat away in any game. There are lots of critics for Tendulkar on his batting. But if you be positive and play full 50 overs you can add a meaning to the match. This is a one occasion that Mahela bounce back. Let's hope to see others contributing especially Sangakkara. One other thing is Cricket is a team game one alone could not win matches. Therefore let's not pay credit to individuals always except in special situations. Therefore I congrats entire Sri Lankan team on their effort towards the final. Finally about violence, I am responsibly say our forces carried out operations very very CAREFULLY. They do it with minimum errors. They are experienced than any other army in the world against terror. Let me wish Sri Lanka to be victorious.

  • Sampath Liyanaarachchi on April 26, 2007, 11:18 GMT

    It's time for Sanath to step up and smash the Aussies all around. He hasn't made an impact in the last couple of games and typically he should rise to the occation in the final. I hope the West Indians will prepare a pitch that suits our players. Nobody wants Aussies to win the world cup again.. atleast the entire Asian region doesn't want them to. So the best case scenario for the final would be for the pitch to be slow and low, Sri Lanka win the toss and make 250+ and put Aussies under pressure.

    Watch out you Kangaroos... Lions are out for the kill!!

  • CrickPassion on April 26, 2007, 11:06 GMT

    I thik the blog writers cant stand the heat of OZ. Souwmya or Mukul are not some expert writers to make simple people understand about Cricket. Now it becomes like a street fight in some slum area in Mumbai. Mahela is a great player, good captain, indeed he had his day on the semifinal. I dont think that other players other than Asian heroes never contributed to crunch games or so.

    I have just one game to compare here with your hero worship and too big tongues and mouth. Can any team win from 161/8 to 262/9( WI vs PAK in 1975 semis)or from 137/8 to 221/8 (WI vs ENG in 2004 ICC Champions Trophy). Its just a match, everyone can do doesnt matter its semis or finals, Asians put them under pressure by thinking as semis or finals. Aussie play as its just another game. All Bombarders hate Aussie. i wish you throw MOODY out of Coach who belong to the sledgers group.

    Umpiring Errors often occur. Yesterday Bucknor didnt give caught behing for Gibbs. I dont think any aussie, english,WI fan will make scenes out of it.

    SB, i just could ask you you can be a die hard fan of Asian teams but dont publish blogs to sledge the aussies and co. You wrote bullshits here.

  • beau on April 26, 2007, 11:04 GMT

    well done now LTTe bitches how much propaganda bullshit they make and try act innocent

  • Tissa Wijeratne on April 26, 2007, 11:03 GMT

    I liked the humble yet convincing voice of Mahela. " Few shots were connected.. The boundary was small.. ". I am not sure what would be the outcome on Saturday. SRI LANKA. You are the nicest team in the world. It is easu to understand why many people love you while they hate green and gold.What ever happend on saturday, we like you a lot. Fellow countryman would keep you all in their heart for what you have achieved allready. Good luck and best wishes.

  • AA on April 26, 2007, 10:56 GMT

    Hi Maveric,

    Well Well another guys who cldn't stand a SL victory.. I think Mahela's 100 is the best innning in the tournament so far.. See how we phased his inning, only a genius can do it. OK abt India.. Last time they beat SL in their own backyard.. not in a neutral location, not in sri lanka.. And that SL team missed Vass and Murali.. Of course SL and India met in world cup.. a neutral location.. full strength SL team and result was Indians got blown away... I really like the Indian ... thats the next team i cheer after SL... but to be honest they are too lazy.. did u guys see how they field?? pathetic... I think this Indain team same the '99 Sri Lankan WC squad..

    AA Anyway I hope they'll come arnd the corner...

  • Valavan on April 26, 2007, 10:48 GMT

    Aus Vs SL. Good to watch. i wish SL gives better final than what was previous. Indeed Beating Aus is not as simple as beating SA or NZ. Lets keep our finger crossed, to see the World Cup Champion. Chances are 50 - 50. Will Mahela produce another epic? Will McGra retire with heads high?

    Should be a cracker to watch

  • Thushara Perera on April 26, 2007, 10:39 GMT

    Well-done Mahela ! Sri lankans will go all out against the Aussies on Saturday, as we have nothing to loose as everyone seems to think Aussies have won the cup already.I think we should spoil their party just a little like we did in 1996.

  • bijai on April 26, 2007, 10:21 GMT

    since i started watching cricket about 21 years ago i can positively say mahela's innings was the best i have seen .most thoughtful , most intellegent, most timely and very well excuted. i have never seen him in person. but according to his interviews i think he is a very genuine guy .plays cricket and lives by it.he always talks intellegently . good luck to him and his team.

  • k on April 26, 2007, 10:21 GMT

    let us hope for the best fingers crossed !! GO LANKA...

  • Hai Hai on April 26, 2007, 10:18 GMT

    Hai Maverick ! jeolousy will not help your convincingly beating team to come up. Wake up from your dreams and join reality. Good luck next time. Before dreaming of a non existing India Australia 2007 Cricket World Cup Final,trying to beat Australia, try how to beat Bangladesh in the coming month. Wish for subcontinent as a whole.

  • jughead on April 26, 2007, 10:17 GMT

    well said supriya (i.e. Sri Lankans are planning to use the pages on the right hand side for this one!) Go Lions!!!!!!!!!

  • Steve on April 26, 2007, 9:55 GMT

    Just remember, Sri Lankans, your team is coached by one of those unpleasant sledging Aussies. And your team admire him

  • RS on April 26, 2007, 9:48 GMT

    The reference to book cricket brought back many memories. Specially as that was the only way in which Gopal Bose not only got into the Indian team, but also scored centuries.

  • Raghu Menon on April 26, 2007, 9:41 GMT

    Yes Mahela's innings was fantastic. Yrt it was a semi-final. What we want is that he (and others) perform at full potential against Australia in the final. That's the real test; NZ is not Australia and let us make no mistake about it. The way McGrath and Tait bowled against SA, Mahela and his boys better watch out!

  • Rohan Perera on April 26, 2007, 9:07 GMT

    Sri Lanka historically is known for its TEA. In 1983 we bacame known as a country enmeshed in a bitter ethnic conflict. It is only since 1996 when we won the world cup that we came on the map again. Mahela no doubt played a wonderful innings to steer Sri Lanka to the final. I would however like to doff my cap to the whole team who have performed so well.You have all done Sri Lanka proud

  • Lucky on April 26, 2007, 9:07 GMT

    Not only in Batting Mahela's ingenuity was displayed in great fashion in Bowling changes and also in placing confidence and playing Upul Tharanga though he failed in previous games, even against criticism.

  • Ranga Wickremasinghe on April 26, 2007, 8:47 GMT

    great innings from mahela,im sure it wasnt easy to score over there with key wikets down but he showed the whole world if you really want focus on the game and if you have the right temperement any thing or any score is possible..any way it was a treat to watch his innings,specially in a crunch match...all the best for the finals mate

  • Aadil on April 26, 2007, 8:40 GMT

    Mahela's Innings was a classic in its true sense,please dont compare this to any other innings,other than Aravinda's beauty in 1996 semis when India had them reeling for none for 2 wkts..i just cant think of any Indian playing a knock like that ever on the big stage in a crucial match at a crucial time barring 175 from Kapil which eventually lead to us world cup finals and win,victory is what matters at the end of the day...brings pure JOY.Having said that I think there are a lot of similarities between WI of 1983 and AUS of 2007 where both coming in after 2 consecutive world cup wins,looking invincible...only to see if aussies will slump from there like WI remains to be seen....!!! good luck SL

  • Maverick on April 26, 2007, 8:33 GMT

    There have been lot better 100s than the one showed by Mahela jaywardhena. Why the media has got to depict every single innings played by a SL batsman as a "big one","reckoning", "one of the times","greater innings" , "comparable to Steve Waugh s master 120*" or for that every ball delivered by the SL bowlers as balls of the "world cup","extra-ordinary". ? It was just another 100 which was in a match winning context, thats it, finished. If one has to look into the greater world cup 100s then this are the ones which count : 1) Kapil Dev s 175 in 1983 vs Zim as it not only saved India from upset but also tracked them to victory. 2) Saurav Ganguly s 183 which not only made India survive in the world cup 99 after first 2 losses, but also shunted the then world champs out of the tournament 3) Steve Waugh s 120 Vs SA in the super 6 game. 48/3 to 272/5. 4) King Richards' 138 vs Aussies in 1975 final.... 5) Ricky Ponting s 140* vs India in 2003 final....

    Mahela s innings at the best was a good innings that won Lanka the game. And whats upto Lankan fans when they say they are the country plagued with violence and civil war ? Cricket mixed with politics ? Aha, get a life. I wont comment anything on the war, but somehow this is self inflicted. But the cricket is not and its free from all political voltalities and instabilities....Even if Lanka wins or looses, the political scenario isnt going to change in SL as it dint change in 1983 when India won.......

    Only thing that might change is the frustation level of Indian fans, who d be more frustated to see a team win the world cup which their own team beat so convincingly in the recent past and the one which is far better than the current finalist team of Lanka and they are the one who can match Australia for their strength and challenge them to victory.

  • suresh kottegoda on April 26, 2007, 8:15 GMT

    hey soumya ,blogs like these & mukul kesavan s are so heart warming to us sri lankans. mahela s innings was a gem no doubt. aussies have steam rolled SA & are waiting for us in the finals. If sri lanka win on saturday, what a day it would be for our war torn country. finally we ll have something to cheer about in the midst of all hardships. BUT only one team can win on saturday. if sri lanka lose the finals we can still go down with our head held high because we have showed the world what we can do & won billions of hearts all over the world. win or lose we re proud of our cricketers & a GRAND WELCOME awaits them in sri lanka. GOOD LUCK TO THEM !

  • sarath Senadeera on April 26, 2007, 7:52 GMT

    Mahela batted well and exhibit true leadership qualities in cricket.As many sri lankans he did n't bother what others say he continued with his admiring cricket and lead the country in to the Final.Many argived about the performance about Sri Lankan team but he was able to milk out the power from team members.Now The two most powerfull teams have been selected to the final.We wait and see how things go on 28th April. I must include this as well how ever as the Amnesty Internatioal said Sri Lankan played by rule.If not such primitive,low quality umpiring is not tolarable to any cricketing nation.

  • sridhaa Senarath on April 26, 2007, 7:47 GMT

    Mahela is the best batsman, best captain and best sportsman in the whole world cup. Go Sri Lanka; Go Mahela; Go Jayasuriya Let's hope the whole world will back Sri Lanka this time; not the Aussies who taught sledging to cricket

  • Opening Bat on April 26, 2007, 7:30 GMT

    Majestic stuff...this plus magic from Murali and Malinga....just may stop the Aussie Juggernaut.But this one is for the History books and "great World Cup Innings" reruns.An epic

  • Supriya from Seattle on April 26, 2007, 7:25 GMT

    Now, now, Mr. Bhattacharya, that was a nice, well written article until that last line. Culmination? Oh, no sir. There's one more to go and the Sri Lankans are planning to use the pages on the right hand side for this one!

  • Faisal on April 26, 2007, 7:04 GMT

    I noticed something.. 1999: AUS Vs PAK, 2003: AUS Vs INDIA and now 2007: AUS VS SRI LANKA. Will it be a third time charm for Asia? HOpe sO!!

  • Hem on April 26, 2007, 6:23 GMT

    Well. you can play book cricket with right hand side-If you take 7 as 1 extra and 9 as out, but since we like actual shots like 6's and 4's its more logical to play with left hand side of the page. (We take 0 as out and 8 as 1 extra)-Tks Soumya for reminding me book cricket:)

  • Santhosh on April 26, 2007, 6:23 GMT

    Its truly a captain's knock. With little support from Jayasurya, beating NZ was a dauting task. But this man kept his cool and saw his team past the semifinal. What an exciting final it will be now against the OZ's. I am sure with support from Jayasurya and Murali & Malinga, this time will repeat history. I cant wait to see them lift the World Cup 2007. I wish the whole team all the very best. This is the team that can beat OZ's. They have the best combination and right spirit and right time to nail the OZ's. Please dont be complacent at any point of the game and crush them guys. I know they have greats like Mc Grath, Hayden, Ponting and rest down till 12th man... but you have nothing less. You guys got what you need to beat them....they are not invincible. This world cup is yours. Lift it with Pride.

  • suds on April 26, 2007, 6:15 GMT

    I once organized a book cricket tournament in eight grade that got so popular that even after the tournament ended, demands kept pouring in for further action and I ended up organized an "inter-galactic" book cricket tournament.Unlike you, my tournament used to progress unhindered when the class was going on ( a highly misguided attempt by the teachers to put the "bad" big kids in the front benches had ensured that small kids like me could continue with their business relatively unfettered by teacher's attention. The atmosphere was nothing short of electric during the recess breaks with teams discussing prospects, picking books to use for the match, deciding on line-ups. In some ways, it was the ultimate precursor to the Twenty20 format, because bowlers were largely irrelevant in book cricket. Those were the days!

  • Gihan Udalamaththa on April 26, 2007, 6:13 GMT

    This is a nice little blog to read. Thanks !

  • Lalin on April 26, 2007, 6:02 GMT

    Mahela played a gem of an innings. It was under pressure and at one time I was thinking he will throw the wicket after giving so many dot balls like Sangakara. Thranga was full of confidence and my child hood freind and neighbour Ashantha De Mel once again put his head on the block for insisting Thranga should play like he did for Sanath. How right he was and how right he will be if Sanath does a Mahela in the final? Human rights organizations have so much to write on our island when so much of human rights are violated in first world countries or newly developing counties where only the majority is recognized. I have been fortunate to visit and live in many countries and its depressing that we are targetted as abusing minorities when we are not and equal rights are given when so many other countries abuse so much and are labelled nothing wrong. We hve two tamils, one a hindu, other a christian (Murali and Arnold) one moor (Maharoof) , Catholics (Vaas) who blend and bring credit to our country. Forget all that we have world cup now and lets wait and se how we deliver.

  • g on April 26, 2007, 5:56 GMT

    It was a picture book innings - It is also the Mahela who was lost. I couldnt believe my eyes. This is the Mahela everyone was talking about at his entrance to cricket.

  • upul s rajapaksha on April 26, 2007, 5:48 GMT

    yes, indeed that particular inning played by mahela is marvellous. no doubt one of the best batting display i have ever seen. not only best shots selection, most important thing was patient and act according to the situation. he know exactly what he should do and he showed the entire world he is one of the best player in modern era. he is a real leader, the way he played aboslutely nice to watch. hopefully he will be able to continue his effort until get the final result for bliss of sri lankan faces and entire asians as well - cheers Mahela & Team

  • Reeri Yaka on April 26, 2007, 5:40 GMT

    Shut the hell up and just watch...

  • Rohan on April 26, 2007, 5:38 GMT

    Simply brilliant.. No words to discribe.. Keep it up,, and Good Luck 4 finals

  • Suranji on April 26, 2007, 5:15 GMT

    We Sri Lankans play good cricket, Mahela and the team.. We dont have ethnic problem as acountry. Some organizations and some western countries gettogether with some jelous terrousts want to break the human interaction of us and want to make this land as their playground in south asia. Everybody pls help us to win this worldcup to prove that we are small country with big human interaction for our future.

  • Nelson Deraniyagala on April 26, 2007, 5:08 GMT

    Thanks Mahela for your great Captancy and your classed century at the Semi Finals. Unfortunately when Sanath and Sangakkara lost their wickets with only few runs to their credit, you took the responsibility to your shoulders and batted very patiently and intelligently for which our Sri Lankans were highly delighted. Sri Lankans in United States are in debted to you and our entire team for keeping the good name of Sri Lanka in the Semi Finals in the World Cup. Keep it up and do the great job in the Finals to take the World Cup to our Motherland. Again thank you Mahela Jayawardena and your team for the historical job done in the Semi finals of World Cup.

  • chandana - Dubai on April 26, 2007, 4:56 GMT

    Dear Mahela, This is what a fantastic inning you played & we need another "MAHELA" in middle order. And Replacement for Jayasuriya ( All Rounder )after this world cup. He also did well than we expect. Best Luck & ONE MORE GAME to 2007 World CUP. Play well & bring it to our country.

  • frednork on April 26, 2007, 4:21 GMT

    book cricket - sounds interesting, but what happened to scoring a single, and how often has 8 been recorded in the scorebook in a match?

  • Amila Gayan, Sri Lankan on April 26, 2007, 4:20 GMT

    I think it is the best knock ever played by Sri Lankan .... Should be one among the best in the history of game of cricket. It was under clemendous pressure having lost early two wickets in a very big game--- oh... semi final of the world cup... we would have been out of the tournament without that innings. We all knew the immense talent of player reminded us great Aravinda and it was just a case of prove it. Explendid timing, Shots in gaps, in all directions, great cricket shots, well phase inning, delicate touches..... no words to express..Well done captain!

  • gaminid on April 26, 2007, 4:14 GMT

    I believe half the credit of the Mahela's second fifty in that brilliant innings should go to Dilshan. He showed the way with the use of feet to every ball he faced. Mahela at the other end watching Dilshan played his shots to perfection must have got a 'lesson' and unfolded his strokes boldly. No doubt he is a brilliant stroke maker in today's cricket. As correctly mentioned by the commentators he is not the 'pinch hitter' type batsman. How he tranformed the second half of his innings was amazing. Watching the 'highlights' during Aus-SA match lunchtime yesterday gave me another chance to watch this great uncomparable innings. It doesn't matter what happens in the final against the Aussie juggernaut. You have done us Srilankans proud!! Thank you and the team again for a wonderful Worldcup 2007.

  • James on April 26, 2007, 4:08 GMT

    Interesting bit about book cricket. When I was young we played the exact same game with a calculator, continually pressing the random button. o.o was out 0.1 was 1 run etc. Was good to score 9 ;)

  • mahesh on April 26, 2007, 3:24 GMT

    hope u do this on da final man.

  • Ananth on April 26, 2007, 2:57 GMT

    This is cricinfo blog where ardent cricket fans come to read something insightful and thorough. Please respect your audience. The title and the material has little connection.

    The quality of articles in cricinfo are declining to new lows!!

  • Mark de Rozairo on April 26, 2007, 2:56 GMT

    Thank you Mahela for that splendid effort. You have shown the world that we are not dependent only on Sanath Jayasuriya and that we have depth inour batting inspite of terrible umpiring decisions by the "worlds best umpires" Sri Lanka was able to post a fantastic total and then turn the tables on New Zealand. I, like other Sri Lankan fans despaired at the rate of scoring early in the piece but we need not have worried. I stayed up all night watching the match and no doubt will stay up all night watching the final against Australia. Just some advice to the S/L players - dont get browbeaten by the Australian players - all of the have the tendency to bully players from the sub continent. Stand up to them, even shove them off if necessary. Heres wishing the Sri Lankan team all the best for the final. I am sure you can pull it off.

  • RK on April 26, 2007, 2:17 GMT

    Atul and Easwar: Come on now, surely book cricket is purely a matter of convention, and it's just as easy to set the rule as "opening pages ending with '1' mean you're out". That's why choosing the left hand side is arbitrary.

  • Bravo Soumya on April 26, 2007, 1:06 GMT

    You made that final comment because you're cheeky and a realist, because you know that come Saturday Jayawardane's spirited men take on team that hasn't scored under 300 in the first innings of the tournament, a team that has simply destroyed every team in the competition like they were playing against children. You said it because the lively Lankans take on a team that everyone loves to hate and even more so - hates to play.

    AUSTRALIA

    Some things are irrevocable.

  • Shirley on April 26, 2007, 0:55 GMT

    Book Cricket. Wow! What a game! However you failed to mention that if you turn an 8 (as in 208), it is considered an extra or just one run.

  • Cannuck on April 26, 2007, 0:39 GMT

    Ahhh! The good old book cricket in school… you bring back some good memories sir.. while we are at it, anyone remember one bump cricket? We in Sri Lanka played this in the classroom especially when it was raining and couldn’t play out site. Diving over desks and catching the pall off the walls and the ground (one bump) to get the batsmen out, and not to mention the occasional rubber ball that gets wet, leaving a pattern of dots all over the class room walls.

    Getting back to Mahela.. well what can you say other than “BRILLIANT!” as he would always put it in interviews. We all knew his potential from the time he came to the side, he just never lived up to the hype consistently. Who knew all it took was giving him the Captaincy. Let’s hope Sanga can find his form as well as we need him in the final, and boy is he due or what?

    I just can’t help but wonder, if a certain fellow Sri Lankan poster who gave me a hard time on Mukul’s blog, about Mahela even being selected for the side (let alone captaining - which he thinks should be a player who can do both bat and bowl), was watching the match yesterday. Mr. hyphenated BO-TEJU if you are still questioning about Mahela, and think he is riding on others … then all I can say is that you probably have a personal agenda against him. Guess it’s time to put such nonsense aside and rally around the team and cheer them to win the Cup!

    2007 is the year the LION roars back on top!

  • Lankan on April 25, 2007, 23:51 GMT

    Have any one of the SA ever watched how Mahela played yesterday. I doubt!

  • Sarath on April 25, 2007, 23:26 GMT

    As many other cricket fans, I was previlaged to watch that fantastic innings from Mahela Jayawardena. It was simply brilliant, patience,technique, craftmanship and sheere class. But the end was somewhat spoiled by the dubious umpiring decisions. Rudy Kortson was simply RUDE the way he spoke to Dilhara Fernando. Would he have dome the same to Magrath, Pollock or Flintoff?. The match reviewing committee should warn him for bringing the game into disrepute

  • Bulto de Silva on April 25, 2007, 22:52 GMT

    Mahela's innings was crafted ball by ball - he didn't go out to score a hundred as hindsight might suggest. He went out to save his team and he played as a captain should. Cheer him for that. Having said that, I was very dissapointed that hi didn't go for the kill when the Kiwis were down tot he last pair. Jayasuriya and Dilshan are good for breaking a partnership with their underrated bowling skills but not the best to wipe out the tail. Murali, Vaas and Malinga had overs left and they could have been brought on to do the job. By the time Malinga did come back for a few overs, the two bats had got their eye in and got the confidence to take singles and swing the long handle. SL should have won by a larger margin, thereby giving them more confidence and also sendign a message through to the Aussies that the Sri Lankans mean business.

  • Tony Jainoor on April 25, 2007, 22:25 GMT

    Yes SB, I fully agree with your comments. I appreciate all your writing and enjoy them. Mahela's century was definitely a 'classic' in every sense of the word. Hopefully, he and a few others will click at the finals too. Can't wait.

  • lali on April 25, 2007, 22:06 GMT

    Book cricket continued in the 80s too and it's such a nice game to play in the class room.Mahela's innings was a class one no dout about it.We have learned our lessons from the previous matches in this World Cup and it was good to have wickets at the end.Never try to hit out at the Power play overs see what hapenned to SA today.True there are players who can hit out like our hero Sanath but if they fail we should get back to basics and play according to the book.We had that back up plan and we survived.All the best to Mahela and the Team in the Finals.You guys made us proud.

  • shekhar on April 25, 2007, 22:02 GMT

    Mahela's innings was superb, but pls stop comparing it with other innings. It does not do justice to what others have played in the past. Be it Tendulkars 99 or Gangulys 183 or Steves 120 (although my personal toppers are Steves and Tendulkars because they came while chasing against top bowling attacks compared to NZ ones). The stage is set for a superb final SL vs Aus. I wanted Aus in the final because SA is not consistent and dynamic team to watch. The battle will be wonderful esp. since the 2 M's and Vaas will be there. Aus have not lost till now but the odds probably will be 60-40 in favour of SL if SL bats first cause their bowling has better variety than Aus. Aus are hardworking and know all the wins will amount to nothing in the world cup if they wont win it. Moreever Glen and Ricky along with the other Aus will like to take 1996 revenge. No doubt about that thought for a second. Murali will be of huge importance in the game. Next will be Jaya/Mahela as their batting foundations rests on them. May the best win.

  • shekhar on April 25, 2007, 22:01 GMT

    Mahela's innings was superb, but pls stop comparing it with other innings. It does not do justice to what others have played in the past. Be it Tendulkars 99 or Gangulys 183 or Steves 120 (although my personal toppers are Steves and Tendulkars because they came while chasing against top bowling attacks compared to NZ ones). The stage is set for a superb final SL vs Aus. I wanted Aus in the final because SA is not consistent and dynamic team to watch. The battle will be wonderful esp. since the 2 M's and Vaas will be there. Aus have not lost till now but the odds probably will be 60-40 in favour of SL if SL bats first cause their bowling has better variety than Aus. Aus are hardworking and know all the wins will amount to nothing in the world cup if they wont win it. Moreever Glen and Ricky along with the other Aus will like to take 1996 revenge. No doubt about that thought for a second. Murali will be of huge importance in the game. Next will be Jaya/Mahela as their batting foundations rests on them. May the best win.

  • Manish on April 25, 2007, 20:42 GMT

    Seems like you are a good blogger but not a bright star. In one line you try to be funny (why left page?...why not) and in second line you show your dumbness but telling '0' is out. One would think it should have dawned on you why left page and not right page.

  • Niran on April 25, 2007, 20:35 GMT

    This may seem like an afterthought, but I did infact thought as Mahela was batting the way he did, something was up his sleeves. He is a thinking captain, always has something in his mind. It was a masterclass unmatched, we must be proud of being born in a country that has produced such talent, grit and intelligence.

  • Shantilal de Silva on April 25, 2007, 19:53 GMT

    Like the proverbial pearl in the Indian Ocean -Sri Lanka - that was a Pearl of an innings. Mahela, I always had confidence in you. Wow, and I was privileged to watch it on TV. Now for the final - Kumar, you have to perform - I know you will and we MUST win it. Good luck boys.

  • Abhishek on April 25, 2007, 19:37 GMT

    Book cricket was in primary school, but in high school we graduated from books to the scientific calculator.We used the generate random number function for the runs/wickets. Helped me survive many a drab class.

    In response to your previous post, its funny how everyone tends to classify Australia as a "machine" or words to that effect, much like German football. If anything, Australia has consistently provided the best entertainment over the last 15 years.

  • Carlos Corraspe on April 25, 2007, 19:30 GMT

    That was particularly perceptive of the author.I think the innings was a gem in the sense of the assured meanderings of mahela, it reflects the fact that timing is critical to the mechanics of a cricket shot as it is to shot selection, as indeed it is to building an innings. like a fine maestro he allowed his orchestra to reach a crescendo,good sex always end with a rousing climax. mahela showed that there is merit in application and patience and the fact that test cricket is more alive in fifty over cricket than we wish to acknowledge, witness the South African debacle today and you will value what the Sri Lankan captain really did at bat.

  • Prashanth on April 25, 2007, 19:29 GMT

    Thank you for reminding me of book cricket! I loved that game. Once played the entire 1992 World Cup by myself and of course India won. Also, if the last digit was 8 (78, 308 whatever) then it was counted as a single.

    And we never chose right hand pages because we would have the case of batsman making 7 and 9 runs which is not possible :)

    Good post and Hope Lankans tonk the Aussies out of the cup in the final!

  • Suneth on April 25, 2007, 19:17 GMT

    class. personified. mahela was the very embodiment of everything sri lankan cricket stands for. to come in when the game can go either way, hunker down, drop anchor and eat away at the opposition like a benign tumor turning malignant. i've heard pundits cough at sri lanka's middle order before. i hope they like the salty taste their feet leaves behind on their taste-buds now. kudos, my captain. you're a champion for us all. come saturday, no matter what the outcome, you will go down in history as someone who did your team and your country proud. what more can a man ask for?

  • anand on April 25, 2007, 19:16 GMT

    yeah book cricket brings back fond memories, I remember when I transferred from India to Jamaica I taught my jamaican friends how to play it, and they were amazed! I wonder if it is still being played in good old CC.... Anyway, it was an amazing knock by mahela, but I was more impressed by malinga's first spell, superb stuff!

  • gygydy on April 25, 2007, 19:05 GMT

    mahela has no talent.loads of chances he got to perform. this is a fluke.

  • Shaz on April 25, 2007, 17:53 GMT

    What a knock!!!!! well I always thought Mahela's talent (the one he doesn't keep doing justice to according to the commentators) was always overestimated (and I'm Sri Lankan! lol!), but what a classic innings! it could have only been better if it was acheived against the Australians! but on another note, heres the plan for Australia! lol! Bat first ( because batting second against a score of 300 is gonna be too tuff even for this SL side), Jayasuriya has to score atleast a blazing half century( after all this is gonna be he's last world cup final! haha!), opening stand of atleast 70, Sangakkara will pay his dues, Mahela hold it together till the 45th over, Chamara and Dilshan blast a few into the stands (well yeah I know they might not reach the stands but atleast hit a few of those "just over the fence" Sri Lankan Sixes! haha! ) take the score over 275 and come off at the end of the 50 with a fighting chance! Have the last lunch before eternal glory, Vass come out swinging and seaming, and get Gilchrist trapped LBW and start the Lankan Warrior Chants (well atleast those frenzied howls they let out!), Malinga has to send in a thundering yorker down at Haydens toes (or atleast a low full toss), its worthwhile on the 1st ball I feel! Autralia 45 for 2 at 10! ( This is when everyone starts praying Dilhara or Maharoof - whoever it may be, doesn't screw up TOO bad! lol) hopefully at the end of 20 Australia 100 for 4 and on comes Murali and spins his Magic (and mark my words get Australia at 100 (or atleast 120) for 4 and Murali will take us home!) Jayasuriya uses all his experience and plugs the other end up and Dilshan takes an absolute beauty at point! and Dejavu (if thats how you spell it!), 96 all over again! Mcgrath bowled off a lightning bolt speared at middle stump by Malinga and out rushes everyone on to the pitch scrambling for those priceless stumps! LOL! well dont get me wrong I know it's a long shot (maybe we have a 20% chance against these Australians) but hey its a chance thats gonna definitely be taken! Sri Lanka to go all the Way baby!!! All the Way!!

  • Sammy Sosa on April 25, 2007, 17:50 GMT

    Mahela Jayardene is a great leader.....He leads by example....This game is just one of his many classy performances...

  • Tom924 on April 25, 2007, 17:35 GMT

    I didn't see one hit by Mahela on TV in Australia because I don't have cable & only free to air TV.

    Quite sad really that the Sri Lanka vs NZ was not shown on free to air TV.

    I followed last night's game from this web site.

    IMO for Australia to lose the Final against Sri Lanka (SA vs Aust still on , Aust chasing 150) Australia will need to bat 1st on a bowler friendly pitch.

    Averages don't always win matches if they did Australia have already won the final.

    Sri Lanka can win the Final with an excellent bowling performance & a solid batting performance.

    Basically on average Australia bats a lot better than Sri Lanka but when it comes to bowling things are a lot closer.

    Sri Lanka need's to bowl 1st on a decent pitch & let Australia try & set a total for Sri Lanka to win.

    The last game between Sri Lanka & Australia imho was testament to what I am saying now.

    Sri Lankan bowlers set the tone & usually win the games murali"i dont chuck" a dillon, Chaminda Vaas(i would get more respect if my name was easier to spell) & maralinga( a nuclear testing site in OZ).

    Jayafruckinseeya,,, he's great & a match winner with bat & ball but ,, but,,, it takes more than one man to win a game (((usually))

    Personally as an Australian who loves cricket ,, I wish,,,,,,

    The final is close...

    I love Australia but one thing I like more is Cricket.

    Cricket is my favourite from all the sports..

    Gilly is a great sportsman,,, he's the best in the Aussie team.

    Most of the Australian team are not liked. Hell I don't like them too,,, respect yes but not liked.

    Maybe I am drunk(which I am) but I think in the final of the World Cup 2007 Australia needs to bat 1st with the other team bowling well... Sri Lanka Batting 1st will be a losing situation,, irrespective of what the pitch looks like.

    Good luck.

    cheers.

  • theekshanas on April 25, 2007, 17:26 GMT

    From someone who has always known mahela wd deliver, it was fantastic to watch the cool sumblime innings he played yest and way he has matured in the last yr or two. such effortless timing, such class stroke play. cometh the hour cometh the man. and 28th will be no different..

  • Sachintha on April 25, 2007, 17:24 GMT

    Deliver when it matters the most - that's what great players do, and Mahela just showed us what he's made up of! It was sheer class!!!

    And for Prad's information : it is not the Sri Lankan government that violates human rights, but the Terrorist Tamil Tigers. Get your facts right pal!!!

    And it was quite pleasing to know there are many other Book Cricket Fans around the world, just like I used to be...

  • marcus charlesworth (england fan) on April 25, 2007, 17:18 GMT

    great knock mahela. the world is on your side for the final against australia. book cricket is still played at my school today. Come on Sri Lanka

  • marcus charlesworth (england fan) on April 25, 2007, 17:17 GMT

    great knock mahela. the world is on your side for the final against australia. book cricket is still played at my school today. Come on Sri Lanka

  • Sense on April 25, 2007, 17:10 GMT

    At right time.. the best innings have come from Mahela.. It was excellent, but how come everyone forgot the Master Piece innings from Tharanga.. He laid the platform despite being put under preasure by SO-CALLED Sri Lankan Cricketing EXPERTS !! I think, it needs same attention as Mahelas !! Anyway it was a good innings..

  • anand on April 25, 2007, 17:09 GMT

    On book cricket, apart from the very basic reason that left hand page ending in zero means out; batsmen score more in 2,4 and 6 than 3 & 5. Also pages ending in 8 meant 1 run being added to total. The way aussies are playing, power cricket and what not, may make all intelligence and ingenuity an exercise in futility. Well coming second is creditable but if Aussies are at full blast a century or two won't stop them. Seems to be like the condition of Indians in hockey after astroturf. The decision to rest Murali and Malinga may be the best decision because only their artistry can arrest the Aussie juggernaut.

  • John on April 25, 2007, 16:47 GMT

    I am struggling to find the link between Mahela's innings and book cricket. Plus 60% of it was about book cricket. Is this a sign of Crickinfos cheap journalism?

  • Nelani De Silva on April 25, 2007, 16:28 GMT

    Great game Mahela! I infact was mad with you that you wasted such a lot of balls, sorry! But either or from the Nalanda school cricket days I was your fan. You are one awsome person!

  • John on April 25, 2007, 16:22 GMT

    I am struggling to find the link between Mahela's innings and book cricket. Plus 60% of it was about book cricket. Is this a sign of Crickinfos cheap journalism?

  • Gayan Hettiarachchi on April 25, 2007, 16:17 GMT

    Mahela- You make us proud as Sri Lankan. It was sheer brilliance and classy effort. Keep it up.

  • bandara on April 25, 2007, 16:10 GMT

    Mahela was the FIRST gentleman of the world at the time of his kock << A simple say. Mahela passed the test and he may do it again the same. But we wouldn't want to see others to copy Mahela's way at any time unless he is Mahela.

  • Venu on April 25, 2007, 15:23 GMT

    Haha! Bet you will get a lot of comments about Book Cricket. Loved the sport. Imagine being able to script an impossible victory for your favourite team, the joy and the jubilation. New Zealand played three poor games and that have cost them dearly. Hats off to Mahela! At one stage it looked like he'd score about 70 off 120. How wrong was I? Kudos to Sri Lanka. I also felt that Mahela took over the title of "World's Best Captain" from Fleming yesterday. Since Lord's last year he has done really well.

  • Hareez Mohamed on April 25, 2007, 15:19 GMT

    I am not trying to challenge or contest the appointments of Simon Taufell and Rudi Koertzen to umpire the crucial semi-final of the 2007 World Cup between Sri Lanka and New Zealand at the Sabina Park.

    Taufell is from Australia and Koertzen from South Africa.

    With the Australia and South Africa also contesting the World Cup, the International Cricket Council's Umpires Committee had they did a bit of thinking, they could have left these two umpires out and appointed two from countries not playing the semi-finals and finals. As such dismissals made by Taufell and Koertzen, especially the LBWs could come in for question and criticism. And this happened when umpire Koertzen ruled Chamara Silva out LBW. Television replays showed that Silva had got an inside edge to the ball and that Koertzen had boobed. When Silva was given out he was going well and Sri Lanka was not comfortably placed. Silva was well set for a big score.

    The appointing of Taufell and Koertzen for this game left a bad taste in the mouth. The umpires committee's decision is intriguing when one sees that the umpires for the Australia and South Africa game are Steve Bucknor of West Indies and Aleem Dar of Pakistan. Better thinking next time ICCUC.

    Then a few overs later Taufell committed sacrilege when he ruled Tillekeratne Dilshan LBW. TV replays showed that even if there were three more stumps Dilshan would still have been not out.

    Poor umpiring for a match of this status when one considers that this is a sudden death match. Well done Mr Mahela and the team we love our country and the subcontinent good luck guys

  • rajkumar krishnaraj on April 25, 2007, 15:08 GMT

    Mahela What a game it was. In the begining evryone was really blaming you for not scoring as much as run we require for match like this, at one stage you were scored only 12 runs for 50 balls. infact we as srilankans thought we will loose the match just because of you. but later you folded the sleeves up and went to score the required runs, this is the attitude that each and every cricketer shoul understand and to follow your foot step in the future. it was the greatest match i have ever seen lately. This prove how patient you should be and when required to go for it. What a match every one should watch. We have no doubt that you will do the same in the final. thank you again for the best game you performed.

  • Prad on April 25, 2007, 14:01 GMT

    What a knock by the captain's. There was more to it than the so called captain's knock..... sheer class.. Well everything said and done. one more hurdle to jump.. a big one and its the final.. I just hope and pray that sri lanka could win the finals. They deserve it. Further the cricket team should not be penalised for human rights violations carried out by the govt. they are there to play cricket and they are doing it in style. One thing for sure there will be violance when jayasuriya starts to bat in his last final. I am also happy for upul tharanga for coming back to form..

  • Atul on April 25, 2007, 13:47 GMT

    "Why the left-hand side page? I don’t know. Well, why not?" Well, heres a challenge: play with the right hand side page - lets see when you get out ;) I bet you will score atleast 400 before you figure it out :)

  • easwar srinivasan on April 25, 2007, 13:34 GMT

    Excuse me Sir, you say you have played so much book cricket, but yet, I'm bewildered you arent aware of the basics!! The reason we dont look into the right hand side of the page is simply b'cos, if we did, then you'll never have a wicket falling!! The most basic rule of book cricket: page number ending in "0" is out!!

  • Valavan on April 25, 2007, 13:28 GMT

    Mahela's century is special than others. Not just its a century in SEMIS. But his shear brilliance to pace up the innings and the tempo of the innings. A few such centuries are seen around. This century can be compared to Steve Waughs one in 1999 WC, to say better Mahela showed application like Brian Lara( as everyone knows Brian is the only one who faced such familiar situations). Such centuries are invaluable in compared to 189 by Sanath Jayasuriya or 183 by Saurav Ganguly. And the Century being made in semis made it more special.

  • amit on April 25, 2007, 13:16 GMT

    thanks sowmya for reminding me of book cricket..fantastic wasnt it? i think ur spot on. mahela's innings yesterday was a perfect example of an ideal one day innings and a lesson - "How to shift gears in 50 overs". in this day and age of power plays broad heavy bats and intimidating bastmanship this was a classic.

  • Dhammika Herath on April 25, 2007, 13:08 GMT

    Thank You mahela for everything. You have bought smiles to troubled nation. we were chastised as human rights violators and looked down upon in the world public. we have somethings to cheer about now. As i witnessed yesterday in the Tiny Island of Bermuda in the mid of atlantic ocean, delighted sri lankan fans driving around the island wavering Lion Flag. that was a great moment for me , time for celebration as we are again proud to we are sri lankans, humble human beings with humility rather than brutes, chuavunists as some media and racists trying to portray. than you again,we as a nation salute you.

  • Rishu on April 25, 2007, 13:04 GMT

    Nice to know i wasent the only book cricket fan.....Yes, the innings was a gem for sure....brought back memoirs of Aravinda desilva...Hope he does the same again in the final

  • LULZ on April 25, 2007, 13:01 GMT

    Nice lesson for many a cricket reporter: "shut the hell up and just watch" Basically, only 3 of the 8 paragraphs had anything useful in them. And that was an echo of everything that had been covered already.

  • SRI LANKAN on April 25, 2007, 12:46 GMT

    No doubt about it, Mahela’s innings was a magnificent knock….. I as a fan was frustrated at the pace he was going at the start. But hey what do I know? And then suddenly Mahela kicked in to fist gear, second, third… etc. Before the fans knew it, before the Kiwies knew it Mahela raced to hundred. Incredible!!! We need more such knocks for the final cos if the semi was a tough hurdle to cross the final is the finish and we need to get there before the other semi finalist, be it Australia or South Africa.

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  • SRI LANKAN on April 25, 2007, 12:46 GMT

    No doubt about it, Mahela’s innings was a magnificent knock….. I as a fan was frustrated at the pace he was going at the start. But hey what do I know? And then suddenly Mahela kicked in to fist gear, second, third… etc. Before the fans knew it, before the Kiwies knew it Mahela raced to hundred. Incredible!!! We need more such knocks for the final cos if the semi was a tough hurdle to cross the final is the finish and we need to get there before the other semi finalist, be it Australia or South Africa.

  • LULZ on April 25, 2007, 13:01 GMT

    Nice lesson for many a cricket reporter: "shut the hell up and just watch" Basically, only 3 of the 8 paragraphs had anything useful in them. And that was an echo of everything that had been covered already.

  • Rishu on April 25, 2007, 13:04 GMT

    Nice to know i wasent the only book cricket fan.....Yes, the innings was a gem for sure....brought back memoirs of Aravinda desilva...Hope he does the same again in the final

  • Dhammika Herath on April 25, 2007, 13:08 GMT

    Thank You mahela for everything. You have bought smiles to troubled nation. we were chastised as human rights violators and looked down upon in the world public. we have somethings to cheer about now. As i witnessed yesterday in the Tiny Island of Bermuda in the mid of atlantic ocean, delighted sri lankan fans driving around the island wavering Lion Flag. that was a great moment for me , time for celebration as we are again proud to we are sri lankans, humble human beings with humility rather than brutes, chuavunists as some media and racists trying to portray. than you again,we as a nation salute you.

  • amit on April 25, 2007, 13:16 GMT

    thanks sowmya for reminding me of book cricket..fantastic wasnt it? i think ur spot on. mahela's innings yesterday was a perfect example of an ideal one day innings and a lesson - "How to shift gears in 50 overs". in this day and age of power plays broad heavy bats and intimidating bastmanship this was a classic.

  • Valavan on April 25, 2007, 13:28 GMT

    Mahela's century is special than others. Not just its a century in SEMIS. But his shear brilliance to pace up the innings and the tempo of the innings. A few such centuries are seen around. This century can be compared to Steve Waughs one in 1999 WC, to say better Mahela showed application like Brian Lara( as everyone knows Brian is the only one who faced such familiar situations). Such centuries are invaluable in compared to 189 by Sanath Jayasuriya or 183 by Saurav Ganguly. And the Century being made in semis made it more special.

  • easwar srinivasan on April 25, 2007, 13:34 GMT

    Excuse me Sir, you say you have played so much book cricket, but yet, I'm bewildered you arent aware of the basics!! The reason we dont look into the right hand side of the page is simply b'cos, if we did, then you'll never have a wicket falling!! The most basic rule of book cricket: page number ending in "0" is out!!

  • Atul on April 25, 2007, 13:47 GMT

    "Why the left-hand side page? I don’t know. Well, why not?" Well, heres a challenge: play with the right hand side page - lets see when you get out ;) I bet you will score atleast 400 before you figure it out :)

  • Prad on April 25, 2007, 14:01 GMT

    What a knock by the captain's. There was more to it than the so called captain's knock..... sheer class.. Well everything said and done. one more hurdle to jump.. a big one and its the final.. I just hope and pray that sri lanka could win the finals. They deserve it. Further the cricket team should not be penalised for human rights violations carried out by the govt. they are there to play cricket and they are doing it in style. One thing for sure there will be violance when jayasuriya starts to bat in his last final. I am also happy for upul tharanga for coming back to form..

  • rajkumar krishnaraj on April 25, 2007, 15:08 GMT

    Mahela What a game it was. In the begining evryone was really blaming you for not scoring as much as run we require for match like this, at one stage you were scored only 12 runs for 50 balls. infact we as srilankans thought we will loose the match just because of you. but later you folded the sleeves up and went to score the required runs, this is the attitude that each and every cricketer shoul understand and to follow your foot step in the future. it was the greatest match i have ever seen lately. This prove how patient you should be and when required to go for it. What a match every one should watch. We have no doubt that you will do the same in the final. thank you again for the best game you performed.