The undoubted star of the World T20 so far has been the elegant Mahela Jayawardene, who in three innings has scored 279 runs for twice out off only 171 balls. His 98 not out yesterday led Sri Lanka to the highest score of the competition so far (195) and finally helped play some of his countrymen like Kumar Sangakkara back into form.
Before yesterday, Sri Lanka were in danger of becoming a two man team in this competition (Mahela and Lasith Malinga) with nine others just there to make up the numbers; just like Liverpool with Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. He has scored well over half of Sri Lanka's runs to date in the competition (279 out of 503) and failed by just two runs from becoming the first man to score two international T20 hundreds. Given that only four T20 hundreds have been scored on the international stage (McCullum, Gayle and Raina have the other three) that would have been an exceptional feat.
We described the two main T20 batting styles - the Lovers and the Shaggers, a week or so ago. Jayawardene is certainly a Lover, having batted through three of his last nine T20 innings. He is chivalrous with his foreplay as he eases himself in, maintains a steady and patient momentum throughout his time at the crease, but also has the ability to thrust harder when required - he has already hit ten sixes (not DLF maximums, Mr Modi) in the World T20 already.
Jayawardene is rapidly threatening to usurp Sachin Tendulkar as the world's premier T20 batsman. He started the IPL season for Kings XI Punjab in the middle order and had a disappointing time. Then he was thrust up the order to open in KXIP's last six games and he returned scores of 110 not out, 44, 31, 38, 93 not out and 21, which when combined with his run to date in the World T20 means he has scored 616 runs at 102.67 in his last nine matches.
As Jayawardene says himself "Batting in the middle (order) was a challenge, I adapted (for T20) and I did different things but I think opening the batting has given me much more freedom to go out and express myself - guys need to find that."
Every cricket supporter in the world would acknowledge that Jayawardene has been one of the best batsmen in test cricket for some while as well as a very effective ODI cricketer. But many may have doubted his credentials as a T20 batsman. The move up the order has certainly turned Mahela from a prince into a King. How long can his reign last in the competition? Or will the red-hot Nannes and Tait send him packing when Australia take on Sri Lanka tomorrow? We shall wait and see.