Jayasuriya still has the competitive spark

The Ruhuna players gather around Sanath Jayasuriya after a wicket AFP

The bat may have lost its capacity to bludgeon attacks but the competitive spark is still alive in Sanath Jayasuriya. His desperation to win today was obvious with his frenetic effort on the field after having fizzled out with the bat. Apart from the fact that he bowled a tidy spell, it was as if he was involved with almost every delivery, rushing to his captain Mahela Udawatte numerous times for discussions, ordering the fielders around frantically, and chiding even the slightest bit of sloppiness on the field. And each of his moves was cheered by the sparse Hyderabad crowd which will always respect him for his repeated assaults on India bowlers.

In the second over of the chase, Jayasuriya strode with gusto, taking typical, busy long strides to hand his cap to the umpire to open the bowling from the Pavilion End. And if someone had missed his name on the giant screen, there was no mistaking that familiar quick-arm action as Jayasuriya started firing in sharp and accurate deliveries.

Two tight overs later, the asking-rate had already touched eight, forcing Daren Ganga to take chances in the fifth over against TM Sampath. Though Trinidad & Tobago managed 16 off that over, Jayasuriya was back to torment them in the sixth. He was bowling flat and fast outside off stump to Ganga with a man just in front of point, a backward point and a square, short third man. Ganga was forced to go for a desperate sweep against the turn but was trapped leg-before. Jayasuriya beamed broadly but the full range of his expressions was around the corner.

After two quiet deliveries, new man Denesh Ramdin drove the last delivery of that over to long-on who managed to concede only a single, despite not charging towards the ball and fumbling the pick-up. That was enough for Jayasuriya to coldly let the fielder know what he thought of his effort.

As T&T set about rebuilding the innings, Jayasuriya's movements became more intense. His dash to have a word with Udawatte became rarer and he started changing the field on his own, mostly from short third man.

Extra cover was motioned to become point. Sweeper cover was sent squarer. He was still not satisfied, and dispatched the man at midwicket to the deep, waving his arms furiously all the time. All this between two deliveries.

He fielded as well as his 42 years would allow him to, quickly getting around to nudges in the circle. A poor throw from cover tested him as he backed up at midwicket with a dive but ended up conceding a run. He got up quickly, glowered at the culprit and let him have it. When he was swung for his only boundary off his last delivery - having gone for only 16 in 23 before - the hurt was visible.

He was still hopeful of victory when T&T needed 19 off the last two overs and exhorted his team-mates to remain calm, wincing at needless attempts to score direct hits. But when Sherwin Ganga lofted over mid-on to finish the game, Jayasuriya was the first to trudge off the field, a disappointed man.