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The captain should stay and fight

As long as Sri Lanka was winning the daggers that were drawn against skipper Mahela Jayawardene were held in mid-air as if held by some unseen force. Now that the ice is broken following their first defeat in the 2007 World Cup there are calls for Jayawardene’s head. It is a typical scenario with all captains. They lead the side with a price on their heads where failure is frowned upon and opinions are expressed to replace him.
Jayawardene has two choices to make. Either he should drop himself down the order or drop himself from the team. One would prefer him dropping down the order rather than him going out of the team because he has proved himself to be a damn good leader who at present is short of confidence because he is not batting the way he should.

Jayawardene does not have enough runs on the board against his name and that is having a marked effect on his captaincy. How can one forget the brilliance with which he captained Sri Lanka in England when Marvan Atapattu had to pull out of the tour due to a back injury? No one expected Sri Lanka to beat England but they did it in both forms of the game. Since then Jayawardene has gone from strength to strength and proved himself to be a strong leader. That of course does not make him infallible and free of mistakes. In the game against South Africa, Sri Lanka made plenty of them and did not deserve to win. The Proteas should have pocketed that match quite comfortably had it not been for Malinga the Slinga who ripped four of their men in successive deliveries to cause a great deal of consternation in the South African camp before they finally edged home by one wicket.
Jayawardene knows what his team needs to beat the rest.

“We’ve competed well against all the opposition but what we probably lack is a bit of consistency in our game. That’s what is important going into a World Cup,” he said in a pre-tournament interview. “It’s a tournament where you can’t make too many mistakes. Consistency is something that we are striving for with all-round performances.”
Atapattu is too good a player to be kept on the sidelines and Sri Lanka must seriously consider playing him at some stage of the tournament. He could fill in the no. 3 slot or open the batting with Jayasuriya because Tharanga whose role is to hold up one end giving his senior partner the majority of the strike is also failing. Strange that no one speaks of Atapattu as long as Sri Lanka is winning. But one small slip and the whole world want to know why Atapattu is not playing.

The Sri Lankan team management will need to think hard and fast before today’s game against West Indies what they should do with Jayawardene. If Sri Lanka continue to slip further in the competition Jayawardene will be held responsible for the team’s failure. It is something which he does not deserve. In such a time of crisis the whole team should rally around the captain and try to help him come out of his present predicament.

Jayawardene said in his pre-tournament comment: “I know that if we are to do well in this World Cup, I really have to fire. That’s the responsibility I have. I tend to take that responsibility head on. One thing good about this team is that we don’t blame each other for mistakes but we try to cover up and make sure that at the end of the day Sri Lanka wins.” Brave words from a brave captain.

As one may recall till the tour to England, Jayawardene batted in the middle-order at five or six. But as Sri Lanka wanted to make the maximum use of the power plays they experimented by sending Jayawardene up the order by promoting him to no. 3. That change produced immediate results as Jayawardene with his wide repertoire of strokes took the English bowlers to the cleaners racking up back to back hundreds in his team’s 5-0 whitewash of the one-day series. Since that heady success Jayawardene has been unable to repeat the form in succeeding series and coming to the World Cup it has now become a serious issue whether to retain him at no. 3 or allow him to go back to his former position.

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