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Prasanna establishes himself as a batsman

For sometime, Prasanna Jayawardene, despite the credentials of the best wicket-keeper around in Sri Lanka, had to stay on the sidelines. That was a period when the national selectors preferred to have a specialist batsman cum wicket-keeper in the national side. As such, those years when he could not make the Sri Lanka team were bitter days for Hewasandatchige Prasanna Wishvanath Jayawardene.

And when Prasanna finally did get the selectors’ nod to wear the Sri Lanka cap on July 28, 2000 in the Sri Lanka versus Pakistan match in Kandy, most cricket observers did not think much about his batting virtues other than his acrobatic wicket-keeping which had at last earned him a place. But on his debut he had to sit in the dressing room as Sri Lanka batted throughout the first three days before rain washed out play.

But although Prasanna caught the eyes of the selectors then, still he did not find permanency in the team with the re-emergence of Romesh Kaluwitharana and then the arrival of Kumar Sangakkara. But with the selectors voicing concern about overburdening Sangakkara, finally Prasanna was recalled to the side in April 2004 for the tour of Zimbabwe. But it was not until 2006’,’07 that Prasanna Jayawardene was able to establish himself in the side as the regular stumper allowing Sangakkara to play as a batsman.

Ever since the lad kept impressing behind the stumps accounting for some stunning catches and stumpings that had even international experts like former Australian captain turned commentator considering Prasanna to be one of the best in his trade in the world. But as a batsman he played a secondary role as a mediocre batter contributing the odd 30 or 40.

But Prasanna pleasingly showed he had potential with the bat when he scored a century against Bangladesh in the following tour. And that was not to be a flash in the pan as the right-hander made India the soil to show that he had the class of a batsman partnering his namesake Mahela in a record breaking 351-run partnership for the sixth wicket while helping himself to a quality knock of 154 in the drawn first Test match against India on November 19. In fact, Prasanna joined the record books in shattering a 72-year old record held by the late Sir Donald Bradman and Jack Fingleton of 346 against England at Melbourne in 1937.

As a wicket keeper Prasanna has over 60 dismissals to his credit from 28 Test outings including 19 stumpings. He made his ODI debut in 2003 versus Pakistan at Sharjah on April 4 and has played in six matches in all with 4 dismissals behind the stumps.

With his latest century and a half achievement against India, Prasanna has at last established himself as a dependable middle order batsman who can give depth to the batting in a shaky area which has been of concern to the selectors.

Courtesy: SundayObserver

Posted on Sunday, November 29, 2009 @ 13:10:17 LKT by

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