Jayawardene leads Strikers to win

3000Sri Lanka great Mahela Jayawardene powered the Adelaide Strikers to the top of the BBL ladder with a comfortable 36-run win over the Perth Scorchers on Tuesday. The Strikers posted 174-2 after winning the toss and electing to bat before cleaning up the Scorchers for 138 off 17.2 overs.

Jayawardene (57 of 37) was promoted to open the batting for the Strikers in place of the omitted Craig Simmons and delivered his most aggressive innings for the tournament. The veteran showed his class, pulling out a wide array of shots and hitting two sixes and seven fours.

Travis Head, who entered to a massive cheer after his match-winning century on New Years Eve, delivered fireworks again, belting three sixes on his way to 51 off 31 balls. Perth openers Shaun Marsh and Michael Klinger entered the match in red-hot form but combined for just 19, and the inexperience of the side’s middle-order showed.

Towering Queenslander Billy Stanlake, playing just his second BBL match, claimed the valuable scalps of Marsh in the first over and Marcus Harris in the third. By the time Klinger was clean-bowled by a zipping delivery from left-arm spinner Jon Holland, the Scorchers looked shaky.

Tailender David Willey (31) fought to keep the innings alive with three sixes but quickly ran out of partners. England legspinner Adil Rashid (3-23) continued his exceptional form, while pace spearhead Kane Richardson (2-21) also impressed. Speaking after the game, Jayawardene said Richardson would be a valuable addition to Australia’s ODI squad after he was named for this month’s series against India.

“He’s a bundle of talent and he’s still young,” he said. “I reckon he’ll go a long way.” Jayawardene said he had relished the opportunity to open the batting and take a more aggressive approach. “The other times when I walked in it was a bit negative, we’ve lost a couple of wickets or they kept falling early so I had to make a change” he said. “When you’re opening the batting, you’ve got a bit more freedom. The way the wicket was playing, it was quite easy for me to change gears.” (theguardian.com)