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Jayasuriya cameo fine with tourists

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Sanath Jayasuriya

Sanath Jayasuriya "is a brilliant guy so we’re happy to have him in the side because he gives us a lot of confidence", said Thilana Kandamby

Sanath Jayasuriya’s presence for Sri Lanka one last time is welcome, according to the man who is set to captain him on his farewell appearance.

Jayasuriya, who turns 42 on Thursday, will play in his 445th one-day international tomorrow before retiring to concentrate on life as a member of Sri Lanka’s parliament.

Prior to Saturday’s Twenty20 international, the opening batsman had not played for his country for over a year, but his comeback will not be long.

Having been recalled for the one-day leg of this tour, he decided only to make himself available for the one-off T20 and tomorrow’s first NatWest Series one-day international at the Kia Oval.

If that is not ideal for the tourists, Thilana Kandamby – who is set to lead the side tomorrow in place of Tillakaratne Dilshan – preferred to see the positives of having Jayasuriya available.

“Sanath is a brilliant guy so we’re happy to have him in the side because he gives us a lot of confidence because we know he can bat that well and he’s a very important guy,” said Kandamby, who stood in for Dilshan on Saturday.

An attacking top-order hitter and reliable left-arm spinner, Jayasuriya revolutionised ODI batting with his offensive approach and helped Sri Lanka win the 1996 World Cup.

“He is one of the biggest legends we have ever produced. I wish him all the best and I hope he does well,” Kandamby added.

“I think if he got a hundred that would be the best farewell he could give.”

Having Jayasuriya at the top of the order tomorrow at least gives Sri Lanka an immediate alternative should, as is expected, Dilshan need more time to recover from a broken thumb.

Dilshan batted in the nets today and appeared to pose alongside Alastair Cook with the NatWest Series trophy, but Kandamby confirmed Sri Lanka’s regular captain is only 50/50 for tomorrow’s game.

Should Dilshan be unavailable, Jayasuriya will be partnered at the top of the order by Mahela Jayawardene.

Jayawardene struggled in the npower Test series, won by England, but returned to form with a fluent 72 not out in the nine-wicket T20 victory at Bristol.

“We took a lot of confidence out of that game and especially Mahela making runs. That’s very important to us,” Kandambe said.

In addition to losing Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka will soon have to bid farwell to interim cocah Stuart Law, who will take over as Bangladesh coach after this tour.

Although the Bangladesh Cricket Board made the announcement today, Sri Lanka’s players found out at the weekend.

“After the T20 game he was speaking to us and he said he is going to leave,” Kandambe revealed.

“He has been good because, when you’re playing in England, he has played a lot of cricket in England. We had a lot of good discussions with so it’s sad.”

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