If there’s one player who revolutionised power hitting, it would be Sanath Jayasuriya. He is perhaps Sri Lanka’s most explosive and phenomenal batsman till date, who changed the way top order batsmen batted in limited overs format. Born on this day in 1969, in the city of Matara near the southernmost coast of the island nation, he went on to redefine batting at the top and transformed the notion of opening the batting with his power-hitting and flawless stroke-making skills.
The left-arm spin bowling all-rounder could rip the best of bowling attacks right from the outset. As well as with his uncanny bowling unsettle the best batsmen. The veteran southpaw represented Sri Lanka in 110 Tests, 445 ODIs and 31 T20Is.
He amassed 6,793 runs in the longest format, 13, 430 runs in ODIs and 629 in the shortest format of the game before calling it a day in 2011. He was also a useful left-arm spinner who was uncannily difficult to score off as he picked 98 and 323 wickets in Tests and ODIs respectively.
As the former Sri Lanka great celebrates his big day, we take a look at his top five performances:
6/29 vs England, 2nd ODI – 1993, Moratuwa:
Before he became famous for his exploits with the bat, Jayasuriya was an effective bowler. In one of his early achievements, the left-arm spinner ripped through a touring English attack with his pace variations and guile. He picked six wickets leaking just 29 runs from 9.5 overs. The hosts won the match convincingly by eight wickets and Jayasuriya was adjudged as the player of the match.
340 vs India, 1st Test – 1997, Colombo:
Sri Lanka went on to create Test history at Colombo, after India posted a massive total of 537/8 (declared) in the first innings. The hosts came out all guns blazing to record the highest Test score ever with Jayasuriya leading the attack. They posted 952/6 (declared) runs in the game which resulted in a draw. Jayasuriya not only scored 340 runs (578 balls) but also accounted for the then highest Test partnership of 576 runs with Roshan Mahanama, who played anchor with 225 runs.
82 vs England, 1st QF – 1996 World Cup, Faisalabad:
The southpaw was a big-match player and this time he single-handedly steered his side to the driving seat with a superb knock of 82 while chasing 236 in 50 overs set by England. He completed his 50 in just 30 balls and then made a further 32 in the next 14 deliveries to end up with a score of 82 off 44 balls. Sri Lanka won by five wickets with nine overs remaining.
213 vs England, Only Test – 1998, The Oval:
A hundred in English conditions is always special and a double ton by a cricketer from a visiting side is exceptional. Jayasuriya arrived in England on the back of failures in the Pakistan series. The hosts challenged the Islanders to follow their trail of 445 in the first innings.
Jayasuriya made headlines with an attacking innings of 213 off just 278 balls, that included 33 boundaries and a six. His superfast attacking style allowed Sri Lanka to score at a fast run rate, while Muttiah Muralitharan scalped nine wickets to give their side a thumping 10-wicket victory against England in their own backyard.
189 vs India, Champions Trophy Final – 2000, Sharjah:
Batting first the swashbuckling opener with a fiery knock of 189-runs from 161 balls, that included 21 boundaries and four maximums, single-handedly took his side to 299 in 50 overs. Russell Arnold chipped in with 52, as other Sri Lankan cricketer’s could manage to score beyond 20’s. India were bowled out for a mere 54, their lowest in ODI’s, as Sri Lanka won by a huge margin of 245 runs.