In fact the Indian maestro was initially an attacking player, with a penchant for the hook shot. But after the first flush of his memorable maiden series, when success became harder to come by, Gavaskar developed into an accumulator of runs, rather than a destroyer of bowling. De Silva retained the sparkle, though it has to be said that he was a middle-order batsman who could indulge in strokeplay with greater freedom than Gavaskar whose primary task was to see off the new ball and take away the sting from those menacing pacemen. Gavaskar and de Silva were of similar stature, maybe the latter was even a wee bit shorter, both compact and well balanced and similarly correct in strokeplay.
De Silva would drive in glorious fashion through the covers, or cut off the back foot, and was quick to hook or pull the short ones. When he got into the groove he was liable to pull off a string of big scores. His highest Test score of 267 came against
in 1990-91, the same match in which Martin Crowe registered his personal best
of 299. De Silva scored centuries in each innings of a Test twice, against New Zealand Pakistan at the Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo in 1996-97, when he was unbeaten in both innings,
on the same ground the next season. India
His most prolific year was 1997 when he amassed 1220 runs at an average of 76.25 with 7 hundreds, the most since Vivian Richards got as many 21 years earlier. In his 93 Tests, de Silva logged up 6361 runs at an average of 42.97 with 20 centuries.
The 1996 World Cup was memorable for de Silva’s superb strokeplay. His 91 against
Zimbabwe was followed by 145 versus Kenya, the highest for in a One-dayer. In the semi-final he hit 66 of the 85 runs scored while he was in, against Sri Lanka . In the final he brought up victory with his unbeaten 107. That was in addition to his stint of three for 42 with the ball. He was man-of-the-match in the semifinal as well as final. If the player-of-the-tournament award had not been decided before the semi-finals, it would surely have gone to de Silva. In the latter half of the nineties, de Silva was doubtlessly one of the three best batsmen in the world, the others being Tendulkar and Lara. There is nothing more to be said. India
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Indra Vikram Singh’s latest books
published by Sporting Links:
A Maharaja’s Turf ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3
Don’s Century ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0
Crowning Glory ISBN 978-81-901668-6-7
Available online on several websites.
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