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Mahela Jayawardene - Cool, Calm and Collected

Despite chasing 414, we fought hard and earned opposition's respect, says Mahela

Thursday, December 17, 2021
'We don't quit'

Tuesday's game was one of those extremely rare occasions in sport when you lose and the dominating emotion isn't disappointment. At one level you're just happy to have been part of something that doesn't happen every day in the game. Oddly enough, I thought we bowled pretty well for the best part. It's just that the conditions – flat track, fast outfield, small ground – made for perfect hitting conditions and the Indians did very well to capitalise.

We knew all about the conditions, having played here before, and it's no excuse. Even looking back, I wouldn't say it was a mistake to put India in. After all, the wicket didn't deteriorate at all, so there was nothing wrong in batting second. The only chance of really taking wickets in a heap was early on when there was some moisture in the surface and swing in the air. We were prepared to chase a sizeable total, even something in the range of 350, but India did better and you're always going to be up against it when chasing something like 414.

That said, the Rajkot ODI showed just how quickly the game can change, and how little the margin for error is when chasing a big score. We had a great opening stand with Dilshan and Upul giving us the platform we needed. Just as Dilshan tired after reaching his century Kumar took over, completely changing the rhythm of the chase. Ever since he regained form at the Brabourne Stadium, Kumar has made it count, using the freedom of batting at No. 3 in the Twenty20 matches to express himself fully. If we had won he would have probably been the Man of the Match, such was the impact of his knock.

What probably happened towards the end, was that we lost too many wickets with about 12 overs remaining. Thanks to the top three we were in a strong position, with wickets in hand.

If anything we might have made the mistake of thinking we had too many wickets in hand. The two left-armers, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra had a really strong finish, even if their figures don't reflect it at all.

The reason I say we weren't massively disappointed was that the game showed the Indians we won't quit, irrespective of what challenge we're set. At the halfway mark no-one gave us a chance. By the end of the game we'd gained the respect of the opposition and hopefully of the fans as well.