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11 Facts about Mahela Jayawardene: Dancing above the stars

Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena
Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena of Sri Lanka celebrate their teams win over India. (Photo by Matthew Lewis-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

Growing up, you knew that Mahela Jayawardene was a class apart. He wasn’t your Sachin Tendulkar with the runs and neither was he comparable to Kumar Sangakkara. He was a different class. He was a different player. In a nutshell, he was a different identity. An identity you couldn’t attain even if you emulated him to the letter. A man of extraordinary discipline, Jayawardene thrived on doing the simple things. He didn’t need the swagger of anyone. Better yet, his bat, slightly smaller than his short demeanor was his weapon. And he used it to perfection. Of course, there would be the lot who have done his facts in the past. However, apart from celebrating his birthday, the below-mentioned facts celebrate a player who made batting artful.

1. A true Colombo man:

Denagamage Praboth Mahela de Silva Jayawardene was born on the 27th of May 1976 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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2. True grit:

Elegance, class, and technique. These were the things Jayawardene excelled at. However, it has been seen in the past when batsmen throw away talent for fame. However, Jayawardene’s foothold and grounding saw him become a giant of a man as he seamlessly crossed 10,000 runs in both formats of cricket. True Grit? Of course!

3. Maiya:

Mahela is fondly known as ‘Maiya’ to his teammates.

4. The Indian connection:

Mahela Jayawardene loves Indian bowlers. Not because they are fiercely competitive, but because he takes them to the cleaners each time he faces them. If he is in form, some of the best Indian bowlers find it near to impossible to dismiss him. Of course, he is elegant and easier to watch. Yet, he makes runs more often than not against the Indians. Of the 12650 ODI runs, Mahela has 2666 runs against the Indians.

5. Mr. Perfect:

Watching Jayawardene was an experience in itself. As a journalist once wrote, “Blessed with excellent hand-eye coordination and a fine technique, Jayawardene scores his runs all around the wicket. Among his favorite strokes are the languid cover-drive – often with minimal footwork but precise placement and timing – and the wristy flick off his legs, but there are several others he plays with equal felicity.”

6. Hatred towards chin music:

While Jayawardene is one of the most technically perfect batsmen, his record overseas is in a way forgettable. The major drawback in his career is his relative lack of success in overseas conditions. His averages in Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand are all less than 35, but at home, he averages more than 60.

7. Ministry of crab:

Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara may be best friends. However, they are also business partners. They own a restaurant in Colombo called the ‘Ministry of Crab’.

8. A HOPEful venture:

Jayawardene lost his brother Dishal, who died at the age of 16 to brain tumor. This affected him to such a psychological extent that halted his career for a substantial amount of time. Off the field, he has won praise for his personal contribution to the HOPE cancer project. With memories of his deceased brother in mind, he became the leading campaigner of HOPE.

9. The hose’s saddle:

An excellent reader of the game, Jayawardene was bestowed with the burden of the captaincy of the Lankan team. Under him, the Lankans became a force to reckon with as he instilled a winning mentality in the players. He wasn’t afraid to take risks as a skipper, as Sri Lanka went on to enjoy success overseas with wins over New Zealand and England.

10. 2011 World Cup final:

As mentioned earlier, watching Mahela Jayawardene batting was an experience in itself. One of his most gritty and excellent knocks came against India in the 2011 World Cup final in Mumbai. Batting first, the Indians snapped up the wickets of Sangakkara, Dilshan, and Tharanga. However, they didn’t count on the brilliance of Jayawardene. The latter smashed the ball to all parts, scoring a magnificent century. Despite losing the title to India, Jayawardene’s century stands out as one of the best World Cup final innings ever.

11. The Light and shining armor:

Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara are the light and shining armors of Sri Lankan cricket. Period. In the first Test of the 2006 Test series against South Africa, Jayawardene shared a world record partnership of 624 runs alongside Kumar Sangakkara. This partnership, the highest for any wicket in first-class cricket history, and the first instance of a stand of 600 or more in a first-class or Test match innings, smashed the previous third wicket stand for Sri Lanka, surpassing 262 which involved himself along with Thilan Samaraweera.

12. Proteas fire:

South Africa’s tour of Sri Lanka in the summer of 2006 was something of a fizzle. However, the tour will be remembered for the brilliance of Jayawardene. Mind you, in 2006, the South African cricket team was a winning juggernaut. Under Mickey Arthur, the Proteas boasted of some of the best players in World cricket. Hashim Amla, Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers while the pace attack comprised of the fiery Dale Steyn and Makahaya Ntini.

Having bowled the Proteas out for a paltry 169, Jayawardene blasted an audacious 374, his first and only triple century in Test cricket. The Lankans claimed a comfortable innings victory.

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