Jayawardene enjoys time at the top
Mahela Jayawardene is showing the world that an orthodox approach can be wildly successful in Twenty20. Jayawardene has scored 279 runs at 139.50 in Sri Lanka's first three games and his unbeaten 98 off 56 balls was responsible for a heavy Super Eight defeat of West Indies on Friday.
While most batsmen try to muscle every shot in Twenty20, Jayawardene has been able to succeed with a more traditional approach and still own a strike-rate of 163.15. "I haven't changed a lot but, having said that, I am playing a few more different shots than I am used to in one-day or Test cricket because of different tactics," Jayawardene said after the win. "You tend to analyse and see what works for you and what doesn't."
Jayawardene, 32, is also showing you don't have to be a young shot-maker to excel. "I am enjoying it," he said of opening the batting. "For me it was about me pushing myself with my technique and ability to see how it would suit for me to play T20 cricket.
"Batting in the middle was a challenge, I adapted and I did different things but I think opening the batting has given me much more freedom to go out and express myself - guys need to find that."
Trevor Bayliss, the coach, praised Jayawardene's mature approach, which will be on display again on Sunday when his side plays Australia. "Opening in the 20-over game is really one of the only spots you can make a big score from," Bayliss said. "We have got a guy [Jayawardene] here who is used to making big scores, knows how to go about making big scores, not only in the shorter version but in Test matches as well."
Jayawardene narrowly missed becoming the first batsman to score two Twenty20 international centuries after giving away the strike to his fresher team-mates in the final overs. "At that point I couldn't even get the ball out of the 30-yard circle I was that tired," he said. "I wasn't focused on the hundred but on getting as many runs as we could."