It was a day when a packed Wankhede Stadium had gathered to watch their favourite son make his IPL debut. But in the bargain they got more than they had wished for. Sanath Jayasuriya, the most underperformed player of the tournament went berserk making an otherwise hostile Chennai attack look mediocre.
It could not have been scripted better. Tendulkar made his debut in the IPL, with his team Mumbai Indians having won three matches consecutively. But in order to make it to the Semis, they had to keep the momentum going. After restricting the Chennai Super Kings to a modest total of 157 due to some disciplined bowling up front by Pollock and Nehra but since then the night belonged to Jayasuriya.
He had been getting starts in the tournament but had barely converted them. This was the day when Jayasuriya had been waiting for to prove his worth to the team. Till the match against Chennai, he had been opening with different partners and the opening partnership never used to go past a few years. Opening with Sachin probably gave him the confidence to go berserk. The first six overs yielded 78 and by then the Chennai Super Kings knew that something had hit them hard. His flicks over Square Leg for six, his powerful cover drives and bottom hand jabs on the on side were a delight to watch.
Though on the other hand Sachin did not really make his dream debut but was more than happy to let Jayasuriya take the strike and demolish the opposition. Eleven sixes in an innings, second in the IPL only to Brendon Mecculum’s 13 in the first match against the Royal Challengers. The sheer arrogance with which he hit all the Chennai Super Kings bowlers all around the park was astonishing to see. In the belligerent mood that he was in, he did not even spare his previous team mate Muralitharan as he attempted twice to reverse sweep the Sri Lankan off spinner. If there is one player who can single handedly take the match away from the opposition with his explosive batting, it is Sanath Jayasuriya. And his team were aware that it would need just one innings to get him abck in form which he did in style.
The second fastest hundred of the tournament after Adam Gilchrist who had gone on a rampage against the Mumbai Indians a few matches back. But with Jayasuriya’s current performance the Mumbai Indians can be happy that their most explosive batsman is back in form and these are not good signs for the other teams. Jayasuriya’s knock was the first good score from a team who had till now struggled in the tournament.
But this innings would do a world of confidence to them as they would now make their move to try and reach the Semi Finals. For the thousands that had gathered to see Sachin bat, it would have been a dream come true to watch this innings of Jayasuriya. Mumbai Indians would also feel confident now as their batting looks more or less to be settled though the departure of Bravo will hurt them. Their next tie against the Kolkatta Knight Riders would be a vital one, as both these teams are fighting for a birth in the Semi Finals. It will be great to see King Khan back in Mumbai cheering his team at the sidelines. But the resurgent Mumbai Indians would be up for the challenge.