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The jury on the ODI winners
One match, two standouts
January 16, 2009
Cricinfo's experts on the best ODI batting and bowling performances of 2008
 
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Dileep Premachandran: "Sanath Jayasuriya took on the best of India's young bowlers and tore them apart" © Getty Images
 

Best ODI Batting Performance

Sanath Jayasuriya: 125 v India, Asia Cup final, Karachi

Dileep Premchandran: This was one of those innings that you couldn't legislate for, because it was by a man who is almost 40 years old, against a predominantly young Indian side, which had shocked Australia in the CB Series in Australia not so long before.

Though India were missing Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma bowled a very fine opening spell to put India on top. At the other end was a man many people didn't even want in the team. Sri Lanka had a minister intervening to make sure Jayasuriya was picked in the squad a few months before the tournament began.

Jayasuriya came out to bat, took on the best of India's young bowlers - RP Singh, Irfan Pathan and even Ishant in the latter stages of the match - and tore them apart. It was stunning to watch.

It was a slow, low pitch and any time you gave Jayasuriya width or were even slightly short, he would just get back into position and carve you over point or pull you over midwicket for six. It was just like in the old days. When you look back at the innings he played in 1996 in the World Cup, this innings was like watching that one all over again.

You also wonder how much the IPL helped him, because a lot of people said almost a million dollars was wasted money for a player like Jayasuriya, who was past 39 and who started the IPL slowly. But the few innings he played in the IPL, especially the 114 in 48 balls against the Chennai Super Kings, seemed to give him the confidence to come to the Asia Cup and play with the freedom that he finally did.

It was truly stunning to watch that innings.

Ian Chappell: What an innings it was. It was played in Karachi, at the National Stadium, where the pitch was on the slow and low side, but it certainly seemed to suit Jayasuriya in the final.

Batting first, Sri Lanka lost Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene - their two best batsmen apart from Jayasuriya - very quickly. It was 34 for 2, with the bulk of the runs coming from Jayasuriya. Wickets continued to fall reasonably regularly at the other end, but Jayasuriya absolutely dominated the bowling.

He hit nine fours and five sixes in his knock, with the usual mixture of cracking square-cuts - whether they were along the ground or in the air. He also got runs with the flick off the pads, and if the Indian bowlers dropped short on the leg side, he was not frightened to pull it into the stands. He brought up his century at much better than a run-a-ball and he finished up scoring 125 from just 114. It was quite an amazing performance.

Jayasuriya was dismissed in the 36th over and the Sri Lankan total was only 197, with him scoring 125 of those runs. It was a punishing innings; it made the pitch look better than it was and it played a huge part in Sri Lanka going on to annihilate India in the final.

Ramiz Raja: What a player Sanath Jayasuriya is. His brilliance is self-taught: his freakshows cannot be learnt or copied or replicated in any cricket academy.

Once he picks up rhythm - and the early signs of that are when he starts carving the ball over cover and point - then he is extremely hard to rein in.

What is striking about him is his ability to rediscover himself every now and then. Even at 39 he seems to keep up with the pace of modern cricket. His strike-rate and his hitting zone don't drop at all when he is in form.

This hundred against India was a typical Jayasuriya innings, laced with fours and sixes. His strike-rate never dropped and it had such a crushing effect on India that they couldn't get out of the shock.

In this match Jayasuriya showed us that he is clearly a big match player. It was a fantastic innings.

Best ODI Bowling Performance

Ajantha Mendis: 6 for 13 v India, Asia Cup final, Karachi


Ramiz Raja: "What was astonishing about Mendis' spell was that he made batsmen who are kings of spin look pedestrian" © AFP
 

Ian Chappell: In the final of the Asia Cup, after Sanath Jayasuriya had absolutely thrashed the Indian bowling, Mendis came on after Virender Sehwag was threatening to do exactly what Jayasuriya had done in the Sri Lankan innings. Sehwag was thrashing the Sri Lankan bowlers around, scoring at almost two runs a ball, threatening to win the final for India.

A wicket had fallen for India - Gautam Gambhir had fallen to the pace bowling of Chaminda Vaas - but it was Mendis who got rid of Sehwag, and what an important wicket that was. Sehwag was out for 60 off just 36 balls and he fell when the score was on 76. Then there was a crash of wickets - Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina both fell to the bowling of Mendis. Then he also picked up Rohit Sharma and the Indian innings was in tatters.

Eventually, Mendis came back into the attack. He got rid of RP Singh and finished the innings with amazing figures of 6 for 13 and quite incredibly, Mahela Jayawardene didn't even bowl him for his full quota of ten overs; he only bowled 8 overs.

It was a tremendous bowling performance - 6 for 13 in 8 overs and along with Jayasuriya, these two men had destroyed India in the final of the Asia Cup

Ramiz Raja: What a bowler Mendis is. What was astonishing about his spell in the final of the Asia Cup was that on a flat track, he made batsmen who are kings of spin look pedestrian. The Indian batting line-up had no clue as to which way the ball was spinning, and they appeared as if they were groping in the dark.

His offcutters, legcutters and the carrom ball that he has discovered for himself were all hard to decipher. His temperament was outstanding. He was playing against the best batting side in the world and he appeared extremely relaxed and focused on the job, and was extremely accurate.

Players like him are difficult to find. He is great for the game and we all want his magic to last. This was his final.

Osman Samiuddin: I was there for the performance and it was a magnificent bowling feat.

The best thing was the line and the length that he maintained. It was very similar to what Anil Kumble bowled in his heyday in one-dayers in the 1990s: he bowled wicket to wicket, and his length left the batsmen unsure as to whether they should come forward or play back.

The other good thing was that his performance came on such a big stage. It was really Mendis' first big game; he had played against West Indies and had been successful, but this was his first really big game. He had been rested for the group league game against India earlier in the tournament and they didn't know what to expect from him. He showed no sign of nerves.

It was fitting that this performance came in Pakistan, because the grip with which he bowls the carrom ball is well used in street cricket in Pakistan, where the taped ball is used and the bowlers are called finger bowlers. They are supposed to be the most devastating breed of bowlers in tape-ball cricket in Pakistan.

Mendis spun the ball both ways but the most dangerous ball was the one that pitched, skidded and usually went straight on. What was also noteworthy was that he was doing this against the Indian batsmen, who are usually such good players of spin. He completely transformed the match once he came on in the 10th over. India were doing very well at the time - Virender Sehwag was going great guns and the target was looking very gettable. Suddenly Mendis got Sehwag out and everyone tensed up. He ripped through India after that.

It was truly a sensational spell and well deserving of the award.

Read what the jury had to say about the ODI winners here

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