Sanath was dangerous, lethal, very consistent says Akram
Pakistan pace bowling great Wasim Akram has rated Sri Lanka’s explosive opener Sanath Jayasuriya among the most difficult batsmen he ever bowled to.
Jayasuriya’s favourite opponent is Pakistan. He scored 1490 runs against them at 51.37 with four centuries, the most he managed against any opponent.
Following are excerpts from that video interview Akram had with a leading website.
“I rate Sanath Jayasuriya because obviously his record shows how great he was as a player, as a cricketer, as an all rounder as an ambassador. Huge personality in Sri Lanka.
He hammered us all the time. Me and Waqar. I remember his first test in ‘89 or ‘90 maybe, in Sialkot. He got 88. Used to come at number six. We got told that this guy was a very good player. When he first came to bat I said “how good he can be, how good can he be”. I mean I was 24 or 25, and at the peak of my career. I mean I was younger. Sialkot wicket, lot of grass, four slips, two gullies. But this guy was hitting us everytime through gully. Gully-point, gully-point. He was a very, very strong off side player I mean anything short. I talk about an inch. You bowl an inch short outside of off stump, every time he hits you to a different area. In front of point, behind point, in front of cover, extra cover. So that’s why he was difficult. In one day cricket he was more lethal. He was one of the few batsmen who hit me quite a few sixes. I can remember two out of two in Kenya, just you know cutting, at point. That’s very rare. And I hated him as a batsman. He was very dangerous. Very dangerous, very good reflexes.
Again I knew I had a chance against him. But in one day cricket mind you there were no bouncers. I played 360 one dayers and 300 must have been played with no bouncers. And Sharjah wickets was where Sanath was lethal.
And he got runs in test cricket as well at number six against us. But eventually I think I got him quite a few times. The variation came in. So every time Sanath came in, I told “don’t bowl him outside off stump”. If anything, the ball has to go from middle, going away from him. Slightly off line, he will cut you at his will.
And he was very very strong. Waqar was actually lethal against him because he used to bowl full in-swinging Yorkers with the new ball. And Sanath is not a very good front foot player. He always hangs in his crease. And waits for the short delivery.
And on the other hand I am a bowler who gets the new ball. I used to take the ball away from him. And that’s where he loved, I think. You cant bowl every ball at the same line when the pressure is on when a player like Sanath is batting. So you know you are bound to make a mistake. And whenever you made a mistake, he was alwyays there.
Just don’t give him room. Just try to bowl away swinger from middle stump. Middle-off. Don’t give him a chance to play cut shot or back-foot drive. That was our plan. It worked. And most of the time, on slow wickets it never worked.
But that was the only plan I had and of course the variations. The slower ball. I got him quite a few times through the slower ball. He went for a cut and was caught behind because the bounce was there. So variations have also helped in one day cricket towards the end of my career.
You knew as a bowler you had a chance. But in one day cricket there was 80:20 chance against that guy because he was always lethal and very consistent.
We used to play everyday I suppose with Sri Lanka so 9 out of 42 is not a good score.