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Mahela Jayawardene - Cool, Calm and Collected

As we're up in the series, we don’t want to give an inch to India, says Mahela

Monday, December 21, 2021
'Aiming to pin India down'

Two tight finishes and I can tell you it's a good feeling to be on the happier side when all is said and done. After the first game we sat down as a group and spoke about some of the things that we need to do in close games. When you're chasing 300-plus you ideally want your top five to finish the game, but that doesn't always happen and it then becomes critical how the lower order responds. In a pressure game, in front of a big crowd, the guys held their nerve superbly.

A lot of credit must go to Angelo Mathews, who is that rare species even among the minority of all-rounder – the batsman who can bowl seam up. Back home he has a reputation for what he can do with the bat, especially the intelligent manner in which he tackles a situation.

In world cricket, though, he's showing his value with the ball as well. In my time the one guy who really did this well was Freddie Flintoff – bowling at close to 90 mph and then contributing with the bat. Angelo obviously has a long way to go, but already he's becoming a vital part of this team. It's unfortunate that he's the latest in our unbelievable line-up of injuries on this tour, but we just have to hope for the best.

The other heartening aspect of our win was the way Suraj Randiv and Suranga Lakmal went on debut. Suraj extracts a lot of bounce and had plenty of variations, and to do well against India's batsmen is a fine start. Lakmal came in at the last moment when Lasith was ruled out and his extra pace certainly helped, and I'm sure he'll learn to be more consistent.

The team management had to take some tough calls on selection as we felt we needed to have at least four specialist bowlers in the mix. That decision paid off with Welegedera, Lakmal, Randiv and Mendis doing a great job for what is a very inexperienced attack. Had we taken all our chances we could have restricted India to around 260 or 270 so they deserve a lot of credit for the win.

Of course, a lot of this would only be of academic interest if it were not for the brilliant starts Tillakaratne Dilshan is giving us. For the early part of his career he had to struggle in the middle and lower order, doing the dirty work for the team. The manner in which he has grabbed the opportunity – 10 international hundreds this year alone – is a sign of just what he can achieve when given the chance to express himself.

At this point in the series, we have the momentum. In international cricket, when you have the opposition down, you don't want them to come back up. That's the mindset going into the third game.