What if... Sanath Jayasuriya was never promoted to the top?
Sanath Jayasuriya in action [PC: Twitter]
How do you define a captain in the cricketing context?
For some of you, he might be a genius tactician, while some others would vote for a dynamic personality.
But to me, a leader is an efficient man-manager, who can utilise his troops to perfection. He is someone who is well-aware of the strengths of his men and thus assigns them the job they are the most suitable for.
Arjuna Ranatunga was such a visionary leader who could bring the best out of his players. One of his most talked-about decision was the idea to promote Sanath Jayasuriya to the top of the order.
For those who don't know, Jayasuriya started his career as a left-arm spinner who could contribute some runs coming down the order. However, his ability to smack the leather with brute power was spotted by Ranatunga, as the legendary skipper used him up the order to extract the most out of him. And as they say, the rest is history.
Jayasuriya became a nightmare for every single new-ball bowler and went on to script his name as one of the finest ever openers to grace the game.
But what if the swashbuckling southpaw was never promoted to the top?
Sri Lanka wouldn't have won their only ODI World Cup
Jayasuriya was monstrous in the 1996 WC [PC: Twitter]
Although Aravinda De Silva is regarded as the chief architect of Sri Lanka's triumphant World Cup campaign in 1996, the contribution of Sanath Jayasuriya was second to none. Sri Lanka's strategy to use Jayasuriya's power-hitting capacity to nullify the new ball threat worked wonders for them, as he ensured blistering starts in almost every game alongside his opening partner Romesh Kaluwitharana.
Jayasuriya smashed 221 runs at an average of 36.83 and an insane strike rate of 131.54 in the tournament. His breathtaking knocks allowed the other Lankan batters to take their time and bulldoze the bowling attacks throughout the showpiece event.
So, had his batting been underutilised, Sri Lanka wouldn't have had this much impact with the bat in the tournament and couldn't lift the trophy.
Kumar Sangakkara would've been the best batter is Asia Cup history
Jayasuriya and Sangakkara [PC: Twitter]
Sanath Jayasuriya enjoyed astounding success in his Asia Cup career. The fact that he is still the most successful batter in the tournament's history with 1220 runs at an average of 53.04 and a strike rate of 102.52 speaks volumes for his unreal dominance in the marquee event.
Legendary Lankan keeper-batter Kumar Sangakkara currently occupies the second spot in the list with 1075 runs. So, if Jayasuriya never played as an opener, Sangakkara would've owned his place in the runs tally.
Upul Tharanga would've recorded the highest individual ODI score by a Sri Lankan
Upul Tharanga in action [PC: Twitter]
Sanath Jayasuriya came out with all guns blazing and hammered a magnificent 161-ball 189 against India in the final of the Coca-Cola Champions Trophy in 2000. His heroic knock is still the highest-ever individual ODI score by a Sri Lankan cricketer.
The second-best in the list is Upul Tharanga's 159-ball 174* in Kingston against the same opponent. So, had Jayasuriya never opened, Tharanga would've held the record for the highest score by a Sri Lankan batter in ODI cricket history.
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