The present captain of the Delhi Daredevils is well and truly a batsman who personifies silken grace in the world of cricket and has managed to become one of the most dangerous players in the IPL due to his knack of scoring quick runs without taking undue risks. He has proven to be the lynch-pin of his national side Sri Lanka over the years and the same has been the case with the three teams which he has represented so far in the IPL- Kings XI Punjab, Kochi Tuskers Kerala and the Delhi Daredevils. He has batted at almost all positions in the top order and has managed to hold his own. As a matter of fact, the Delhi Daredevils batting lineup is packed with power hitters like Virender Sehwag, David Warner and Kevin Pietersen but Jayawardene has managed to hold his own amidst such embarrassment of riches.
The biggest advantage that a team can have with a batsman like Mahela in their ranks is that he is someone who can bat at any positions in the top order with equal ease. For instance, during his time with the Kings XI Punjab he batted in the middle order and also opened the batting in certain games; this has become a trend that has continued to this day with the Delhi Daredevils. If the situation requires caution then he can drop anchor at one end and if his team needs to go for quick runs, then he can take on any bowler in the world simply due to the innumerable attacking strokes that he can unleash. He can be the perfect foil as well as the perfect destructive batting partner for players like Sehwag and Pietersen.
At the first auction in 2008, Jayawardene was sold at a relatively cheap $475,00 but his performance over three seasons for the Kings XI Punjab made the newly formed Kochi Tuskers Kerala snap him up at a jaw dropping $1.5 million, making him one of the most valuable players of the tournament. However, once the Kochi franchise were suspended from the tournament Jayawardene found himself in the auction pool again in 2012; a year after he was picked up by the KTK. However, he was immediately bought by the Delhi Daredevils in the very first round of the auctions for $1.4 million. The Kings XI might have struck an excellent bargain in 2008 but from then on his value as a T20 player remains beyond any doubt recognized.
Over the past 6 seasons of the IPL, Mahela Jayawardene has played plenty of crucial innings but the knock that stands out is the one he played versus the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens in 2010, when he used to play for the Kings XI Punjab. Chasing a near unassailable target (in 2010) of 201, Jayawardene stroked his way to an outstanding 110 not out (59 ball, 4*14, 6*3) to take his to victory. That was at the beginning of his stint as an opener in T20s and he announced himself in the role in great style.
If one looks at the above table then it is clear that his strike rate of 123.25 and the average of 28.60 do not do justice to him as a player, since it is abundantly clear to everyone that he can do a lot more. The last IPL season was perhaps his poorest by far and it is not surprising that the Delhi Daredevils failed to win many games in IPL 6. His strike rate seems to have dropped as well since the season in 2011 but that can be attributed to the fact that he has played the role of the anchor in the batting order rather than the aggressor and it is expected that he would continue to play that way in the next season as well. It needs to be pointed out however he can change gears and go hard at the bowling as well if the team management wants him to.
Did you know?
Mahela Jayawardene is one of the biggest foodies that one can ever hope to come across in the Sri Lankan team. Sea food is what he likes the most, which is why it is no wonder that he has now opened a restaurant in partnership with team mate Kumar Sangakkara which specializes in crab dishes. The restaurant is located in Colombo and is named the ‘Ministry of Crabs’. Usually the restaurant brims with the most noted names in Sri Lankan society. Jayawardene’s wife Christina Sirisena has a travel consulting business of her own and it must be said that the couple surely would have a lot on their hands when the cricketer finally retires from the game.
By Soham Samaddar