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June 30, 2009
Sri Lankan batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, who turned 40 on Tuesday, has said he wants to carry on until the 2011 World Cup. "I would love to. I am taking each series at a time. Hopefully I will get there. Age is not a problem, it is how you stay mentally and physically fit to remain on top of the game, to try out new variations in the bat and ball," Jayasuriya told AFP.
The hard-hitting batsman, who also bowls left-arm spin, made his one-day debut against Australia in Melbourne in 1989 and was impressive as an allrounder during Sri Lanka's victorious World Cup campaign in 1996. He is the second batsman after India's Sachin Tendulkar to pass 13,000 runs in ODIs and also holds the record for being the oldest batsman to score a one-day century, at 39 years and 212 days against India in Colombo.
"I don't really worry about records any more these days," Jayasuriya said. "I focus on putting runs on the board, to help the team win matches."
Jayasuriya retired from Tests in 2007, but continues to shine in the shorter versions of the game. He scored freely during the recent World Twenty20 in England where Sri Lanka finished runners-up, and ended as their joint second-highest run-getter with 177 at 25.28.
He said the emergence of talented young players meant he could never take his place for granted in the national team. "Playing with youngsters is extra hard these days," Jayasuriya said. "There is an abundance of raw talent constantly knocking at the door for a berth in the team. And that puts pressure on me. I have to perform to retain my place."
Jayasuriya, who captained Sri Lanka from 1999 to April 2003, knows that life is not easy for youngsters either. "They also need to live up to expectations, sometimes the pressure on them is much more than what it was when I was starting out."
Jayasuriya announced his retirement in 2006, but made a comeback during Sri Lanka's tour of England in the same year. His next outing will be the home series against world Twenty20 champions Pakistan, who will play five ODIs and a Twenty20 game after the three-Test series that begins on July 4.
"Pakistan has variety in batting and bowling and we are also working on a few things. Let's see, it should be an interesting contest," Jayasuriya said.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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