Special Correspondent

MUMBAI: Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar make for a potent batting combination in any form of cricket.

Twenty20 will see these two cricketing heavyweights showcase their expertise in the latest version of the game for Mumbai Indians in the DLF Indian Premier League.

Jayasuriya played in the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa and also gained T20 experience with English county sides Lancashire and Warwickshire last year.

The Sri Lankan, benched for the forthcoming one-day series against West Indies and having retired from Test cricket, is excited about the opportunity to play in the same team as Tendulkar. “I had a chat with Sachin in Australia when we were playing at Hobart. Playing in the same team as him will be fulfilling another milestone,” said Jayasuriya, talking to the media from Sri Lanka through teleconferencing.

Still young

He asserted that though 37 years old, he was confident of being effective in the T20 format of the game, which places a premium on faster reflexes from batsmen and bowlers.

“I am still young and training hard,” said the Lankan who is feared by bowlers for power-packed batting and respected by rival batsmen for clever left-arm spin.

Lancashire signed him up as replacement for Muttiah Muralitharan last season for the Twenty20 Cup. He then played for Warwickshire. The Mumbai franchise owned by the Reliance Industries paid $975,000 at the IPL auction for his services.

Umpire’s responsibility

He is of the opinion that umpires have a big role to play in ensuring that world cricket is not tarred by sledging. The International Cricket Council issued a directive after the India- Australia series, banning sledging and putting the onus on umpires to decide whether a player has overstepped or not.

Replying to a query about the latest ICC restriction, the former Lanka captain said: “Sledging has always been a part of the game. We will have to see how it goes. It depends on the situation, sometimes players go into overdrive, other times they calm down. You cannot keep it out of cricket. The umpires are there to take care.”

When asked about the fear among cricketing nations after international players opting for retirement, lured by money offered by the IPL, he said: “I am proud to represent my nation. That is the ultimate honour, whether it is Test cricket or other forms of the game. It is only after playing for your country that offers like this one to play T20 happen.”

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