Games & Sports

Mahela, Sharma get taste for ICC World Twenty20

Colombo: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena and India fast bowler Ishant Sharma on Monday got their hands on the ICC World Twenty20 trophy here on Monday. And both men admitted they would love to do it again when the second staging of the tournament reaches a climax at Lord’s on 21 June.

Sharma became an international regular in the months that followed India’s win in the inaugural event in South Africa in 2007, and after seeing and hearing the reaction to that success he said he wanted that winning feeling this time around. “What happened then definitely made me want to be a part of the India team,” he said.

“Everyone saw and heard the reception the players got when they returned to Mumbai. It was a big day for Indian cricket to win a world event after a long time and I want to be a part of that in 2009.” Mahela Jayawardena said, “Anything that involves cricket in Sri Lanka will see the people go crazy for it.

“When we came back home as runners-up from the (ICC Cricket) World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007 it took us three-and-a-half hours to reach Colombo from the airport so I think Sri Lanka would go berserk if we could get hold of this trophy in June.”

The trophy is in Colombo at the start of a tour around the cricketing world with the aim of promoting the men’s and women’s events, which take place in England from 5 – 21 June. It will go on display in the Crescat Mall shopping centre in Colombo on Tuesday for two hours from 12 noon to give the Sri Lanka public a chance to get a close look at what will be on offer in four months’ time.

And the trophy will then form part of the telecast when Sri Lanka and India go head-to-head in a Twenty20 International at the R.Premadasa Stadium on Tuesday evening. The ICC World Twenty20 2009 sees 12 of the top men’s teams and the top eight women’s teams competing in a best-of-the-best event at four venues – Lord’s, The Oval, Trent Bridge and Taunton (women’s matches only).

Each of the men’s and women’s semi-finals and the finals will be played as double-headers at the same venues offering great value to spectators and great exposure to the women’s game.

Jayawardena believed with players and teams now having more experience of the T20 format, the 2009 tournament would offer up even more quality and excitement than was seen in South Africa.

“We enjoyed that tournament but in terms of experience hardly anybody had played more than a handful of T20 matches. It was a first and no-one was quite sure how to approach it,” he said.

“Now I think everyone realizes a lot more about what needs to be done, the tactics involved and so on.

“It’s a world event, it is gathering momentum and everyone wants to win it. Everyone wants to get their hands on that trophy,” he said.

Sharma said bowling in the shortest international form of the game was a test but discipline was the key to success.

“It’s like bowling in a batting power play all the time,” he said. “It’s not easy for bowlers but it’s all about sticking to plans.

“I toured England in 2007 but didn’t play a lot of cricket then. I have heard about the pitches there being flat but let’s wait and see how they play.”

Jayawardena said, “I think it will be a fascinating tournament. Normally anything from 180 to 200 would be a good total but you can’t predict conditions in England in June so 120 to 130 might be a winning score.

“With most of our guys playing in the IPL and then Sri Lanka being invited to take part in the Stanford tournament in England we will have some very good preparations coming into the event.

“On that basis it will be down to the guys to get focused and get their individual preparations right.”

Further dates and locations for the ICC World Twenty20 trophy tour will be announced in due course.

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Raheel Hanif

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