Wayamba crowned as the T20 champions for the second year in succession will play Basnahira South in their first outing in the four day Bank of Ceylon provincial league tournament scheduled to get underway on Thursday the 18th. Wayamba did extremely well in the recently concluded provincial T20 version; however for the upcoming league they will miss the services of four key players. Skipper Jehan Mubarak has to live with the reality that he will not have the luxury of Mahela Jayawardena, Farveez Maharoof, Thisara Perera and Ajanth Mendis who are involved in the IPL. Mubarak will have to bank on Jeewantha Kulathunga, Mahela Udawatte Michael Vandort and all rounder Kauslya Lokuarachchi to play a big role with the willow while Jehan himself will need to use all his experience he has gained in the international arena to keep the batting department intact. The spin department led by Rangana Herath is well balanced taking into consideration that leg spinner Kauslya Lokuarachchi has been in good form in recent times. Wayamba will depend on Chanaka Welegedara to deliver with the new ball while under19s sensation Chatura Peiris will be tried and tested in the longer version of the game. Isuru Udana will share the new ball with Welegedera however Mubarak will have to be precise in his man management taking into account the dearth of young hopefuls he has to cope with.
Chamara Silva will skipper Basnahira South in the absence of skipper TM Dilshan who is currently on tour in India in the ongoing IPL. Chamara will have to use all his experience in guiding his batting line up. Malintha Warnapura Prasanna Jayawardena Gihan Rupasinghe Lahiru Thirimana , Dilruwan Perera Milinda Siriwardena are all capable with the bat, however skipper Charmara Silva will expect a lot of runs from Hasantha Fernando who has impressed in both versions of the recently concluded provincial limited over games. Ruchira Perera and Suranga Lakmal have a lot of experience with the new ball, Charith Jayampathi who did extremely well in the under 19 World cup is a good prospect. The spin department will be led by Malinga Bandara and Dinuk Hettiarachci for the Colombo lads. A very interesting game is on the cards.
BT: – Jehan you are minus four of you key players in the upcoming league, hence how do you hope to cope without Mahela, Farveez, Thisara and your premier Spinner Ajantha Mendis?
JM: – Yes this scenario is not new to me. I coped with the same problem” as you call” it even last year. Obviously I will miss the seniors, having said that, my bench strength is good. Let’s just re- visit last year, we were runners up, without our key players hence my ambition is to improve on what we achieved in 2009. Hope you read between the lines.
BT: – Are you optimistic Jehan?
JM: – Don’t think I’m counting the Chicks before they are hatched. If I’m not optimistic with the dedication my players have showed in the shorter version of the game, I will be a negative person and that’s not good when you captain a side.
BT: – After playing alongside with Mahela Jayawardena, I reckon some of his positives have rubbed into your thinking, fair statement?
JM: – Look I’m not a loner here. Every single player in the Wayamba team has been thankfully infected with the Mahela forbear. We are grateful for that. As for me, putting on my thinking cap with words of wisdom from the wizard himself has made me a positive, captain and a professional in handling my players both on and off the field.
BT: – Let’s get down to Pallekelle now. The pitch on offer has plenty for the batsman, you get value for your strokes, and how do you reckon your bowlers can contain the opposition who have batsman who can make it count on the type of pitch we envisage being a four day league?
JM: – I’m not going to state what you just told me to my bowler’s. I look at my wicket taking opportunities very positively; the pitch does offer a good carry, decent bounce and sideways movement for the new ball bowlers. We will have to bowl well, we got our men ready for it, we also need to tactically protect the shine of the ball at least on one side for longer periods of time, because reverse swing is also in the equation.
BT: – Jehan you as a player with natural ability and skill level must be consistent with your batting. You don’t need a rocket scientist to tell you that do you? What’s happening to the runs?
JM:- Good question, but why are you forgetting about is , my bowling capabilities. I got my first fifer in last year competition. I know my responsibility; with the bat is much more. I have identified certain areas where I need to improve, having said that I got Jeevantha, Mahela Udawatte and Michael Vandort to support me. Did it dawn on you that my team lacks a specialist off spinner hence the onus is on me?
BT: – Great you are there, do role your arm and I wish you well. Any names you like mention especially the your young hopefuls playing in the big league?
JM: – I hate to name individuals; I’m doing so because you insist. Kushal Janith Perera our wicket keeper bat is bubbling with talent, Chtura Peiris I’m excited about his bowling capabilities last but not least Madura Lakmal and Damith Hunukumbura are a breath of fresh air.
BT: – You are a Royalist… “Disce or Decade” Learn or depart, do you have your old alma mater motto as your guide line ?
JM: – Proud you ask me that question. You forgot the school song obviously because you lived by the hills and sea I’m told…Fair enough. “Learnt of books and learnt of men and learn to play the game”. Simple just play the game to the best of your ability with dignity and honour.