Nuwan Zoysa credits Sri Lankan bowling for the World Cup T20 victory on Sunday at Mirpur.
“Lanka bowling was spot on, especially when it came to yorkers. India’s batting line-up is mighty, but the bowlers had done their homework and became difficult to score off them. Virat Kohli is a big-match player and consistent in different formats. Even he had to be patient. Otherwise, limiting the Indian batting to 130 is unthinkable.”
The former Lankan fast bowler is in Rajkot as the Goa team coach for the Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament.
“The World Cup victory could not have been timed better by the team as a farewell gift for Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. These are greats who gave so much to the game.
“A World Cup Trophy was the only missing link in their collection. Both had made public their retirement decision, teammates made sure they went out on a high.”
Lanka lost the previous World Cup T20 final at home against the West Indies. Asked to single out anything different attempted this time, Zoysa focused on the support system for the 2014 team led by Lasith Malinga.
“The 1996 World Cup-winning batch moulded this bunch in its own ways. Hashan Tillekeratne, Chaminda Vaas passed on experience. I am sure Murali (Muralitharan) worked on the bowlers, though not officially listed as support staff. Having the world’s feared opener Sanath Jayasuriya as selectors’ chairman helps.”
Jayawardene’s ability to inspire others is an aspect Zoysa greatly admires.
“When I was doing a Level II coaching course back home, foreigners coaching Lanka like Graham Ford and Trevor Bayliss addressed us. I remember getting charged up hearing Jayawardene speak about leadership. He had the same effect on younger teammates,” quipped the ex-Lanka fast bowler who turned into an effective slogger in one-day cricket.
Zoysa was in awe of Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva in his debut season for Lanka in 1996-97.
“Sharing the dressing room with these big names and seniors Marvan Attapattu was an honour. The youngsters coming into the team these days know what is expected from them. Thisara Perera (23 off 14 balls) was given a role to do and he went out and delivered.”
Sangakkara a hit in Goa
Kumar Sangakkara is famous with young cricketers in Goa notes coach Zoysa, on contract till 2015.
“It is difficult to follow him, I advise Goa players to pick the best in Lankan greats they admire. Jayawardene’s batting style in T20 for example, he plays classical shots and boundaries keep coming. A boundary is equal to four runs, whether coming off a stylish Jayawardene shot or a fierce slog. You don’t need power to hit fours or sixes I keep reminding them.”
South Zone topper Goa will take on Haryana in the opening Group ‘A’ tie at the Khanderi stadium in the 2014 Mushtaq Ali T20.
Jharkhand and defending champion Gujarat clash in the second tie on April 8.
Uttar Pradesh is the fifth team in the fray, all competing for one final spot on April 14.