New Delhi:Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara on Saturday paid rich tribute to legendary teammate Sanath Jayasuriya, who made his ODI debut exactly 20 years ago.
The 40-year-old left-hander made a quiet ODI debut -- managing three runs off five balls at number five -- against Australia at Melbourne Cricket Ground before he went on to be monikered the 'Matara Marauder' for redefining one-day batting in the 1996 World Cup.
Having played 443 ODIs in the last two decades, apart from the 110 Test matches, Jayasuriya is clearly past his prime but Sangakkara said the old warhorse still commanded respect in the dressing room.
"It's a great moment for him. Since the 1996 World Cup (which Sri Lanka won under Arjuna Ranatunga's captaincy with Jayasuriya as a crucial performer), he has gone on to turn one-day cricket upside down with his batting," Sangakkara said.
"He is such a valuable player that we noticed the team was over-dependent on him. That's both the plus and minus side of having a player of his calibre," he said of Jayasuriya who is the only cricketer to score more than 13,000 runs and capture more than 300 wickets in ODIs.
"For all the runs he scored and the wickets he took, Sanath deserves all the credits and accolades that come his way," Sangakkara said, adding it was good for the side to overcome their over-reliance on Jayasuriya.
"It's important now to move and try to win matches without him and that doesn't undermine his value in the team," Sangakkara said of Jayasuriya who had to vacate the opening slot and now bats in the middle order.
"After 20 years of international cricket, he is now doing a different role and taking up new responsibility. Overall, it was a great journey for him," Sangakkara concluded.