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Last Updated:  Friday, 7 March, 2003, 18:05 GMT
De Silva still hitting the mark
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport at Centurion

As Sri Lankan wickets tumbled to an in-form Brett Lee at Supersport Park on Friday it was easy to forget that Aravinda de Silva was standing firm at the other end.

Aravinda de Silva
ODI debut: 31/04/84
World Cups: 87, 92, 96, 99, 03
CWC 2003 runs: 231
CWC 2003 average: 38.5
CWC 2003 wickets: 6
But as the game entered its last rites, de Silva, shamefully the only Sri Lankan batsman to cash in on probably the finest batting track in Africa, suddenly unleashed a flurry of boundaries and only just missed out on what would have been a fine century.

A year or so ago, de Silva's international career appeared to be at and end.

But his form is back to its very best and he is proving one of the most exciting batsmen to watch at this World Cup.

There was some tremendous hitting from the experienced right-hander when the game was all but up, with Lee taking considerable stick at the death.

One sensed de Silva was a little upset that the Aussie quick had hospitalised his skipper Sanath Jayasuriya at the start of the Sri Lankan innings and it was time for a counter-punch.

The pick of his two sixes off Lee was played over mid-wicket to a fullish ball with his weight remarkably on the back foot.

It was the same sort of brilliantly-improvised shot that Sachin Tendulkar was able to pull out of his locker on the same ground a week earlier against Pakistan.

He's been a very good batsman for a long time in both forms of the game
Sanath Jayasuriya
De Silva's form with the bat is most encouraging for Sri Lanka as they eye a spot in the semi-finals.

His previous innings, of 73 at Durban against South Africa, served an absolutely crucial foil for Marvan Atapattu's memorable century.

When de Silva bats well, he invariably does well with the ball.

His off-spinners may not look terribly dangerous but they were reliable enough for him to bowl full 10-over spells in the matches against West Indies and South Africa.

Indeed, so confident was Jayasuriya in de Silva's bowling ability he introduced him in the 10th over at Centurion.

That was just a little too brave a move, however. With Adam Gilchrist and Matty Hayden well set, de Silva was roughly treated on this occasion.

After the match, Jayasuriya, back from hospital, said he thought de Silva's innings was "magnificent" - presumably there had been a TV screen in the same room where he was X-rayed.

The Sri Lankan skipper added: "Aravinda is in good form now. I always want him to score well then it's easier for the other batsmen, who are less experienced, to play around him."

And it is not just within the Sri Lankan camp that he is revered. Before the match at Centurion, Ponting had named de Silva as the best batsman amongst the opposition.

"He's been a very good batsman for a long time in both forms of the game and he's chipped in with the ball as well so he's very dangerous."

That is certainly praise indeed. Now it's up to India and Zimbabwe to try to put an end to the Aravinda renaissance.





Links to more Sri Lanka stories


 

SEE ALSO
De Silva revels in swansong
07 Mar 03 |  World Cup
Aussies overpower Sri Lanka
07 Mar 03 |  World Cup
Australia thrash Sri Lanka
07 Mar 03 |  Photo Galleries
Have Your Say on Sri Lanka
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say


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