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‘Virat will go a long way’

Aravinda de Silva on the T20 era and Sachin
Aravinda de Silva

Colombo: Former Sri Lanka captain Aravinda de Silva, who would have been much sought after in this the T20 era, spoke to The Telegraph at his residence.

Aravinda, 46, is into business in a big way. However, he’s associated with a Coca Cola-funded programme for schoolkids. “I’m really passionate about it and we regularly scout for talent,” he said.

The following are excerpts from the interview

Batting in T20...

(Smiles) Sometimes, it’s easier... If we played a rash shot, then we used to be criticised... Not so in T20, which has that element of entertainment. Even a bad shot may not be criticised.

His approach...

My job was to make it difficult for the bowlers, be it in Test cricket or in the ODIs. I would often be criticised, but I used to forget about the criticism and play the way I wanted to. I took it upon myself to tear into the bowlers, no matter how good... Took it upon myself as a challenge. My approach was different to that of the others, for I saw myself as an entertainer.

Top six T20 batsmen (alphabetically)...

MAHENDRA SINGH DHONI: Bats down the order, but likes to take control. He will largely work the ones and twos, instead of going for a big hit like a (Virender) Sehwag. Has the temperament to finish the game.

CHRIS GAYLE: Can destroy any attack... That he does so early in the innings gives his team the momentum. Is capable of winning any match single-handedly.

MAHELA JAYAWARDENE: Makes run-making look so easy... He’s already on the way in a big way before the opposition realises what’s happening. His captaincy, too, stands out.

KIERON POLLARD: Adds muscle to the middle-order and can just walk in and attack. He has the strength, which works in his favour in this format.

VIRENDER SEHWAG: You can’t stop him on his day... He’s not afraid to take on any bowler and he’s not afraid of getting out... Not being afraid of getting out makes a difference... It shows that you don’t look at the statistics and don’t worry about them.

YUVRAJ SINGH: He’s always been one of my favourites... Besides being able to clear the field, he’s a useful bowler and can pick up wickets at crucial times... He looks the relaxed type, wanting to enjoy the game and not worry about records.

The one to have just missed his list...

Virat Kohli... Is mentally strong and has been very impressive from the time I first saw him (U-19 World Cup in 2008)... He’ll go a long way and I won’t be surprised if he’s the one to break Sachin Tendulkar’s records... Has had a great year, been so consistent.

Finally... Good friend Sachin announcing that he’ll “re-assess” his future next month...

It’s difficult to say what’s going on in his mind... Age catches up on you and it takes longer to recover physically and mentally. To give an example, Kohli’s recovery will be faster than Sachin’s. That’s natural.

Footnote: That Aravinda lost his father Sam to cancer drew him even more to Yuvraj. “I was very upset when word came out that Yuvi had cancer... Now, of course, I’m delighted that he’s back playing cricket... I met him recently and wished him,” Aravinda pointed out.