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Mahela Jayawardene - Cool, Calm and Collected

Sri Lanka's captain previews his team's forthcoming ODI series against India

Monday, January 26, 2022
Time to avenge August loss

We have been on the road now for six weeks—first in Bangladesh and last week in Pakistan—and only have two days to prepare for another really tough series with India. However, after Saturday night’s great victory in Lahore, we could not be in a better frame of mind. 

Losing our first game in Karachi was bitterly disappointing. The bottomline was we were thrashed and we only had ourselves to blame for a very tentative batting display. That hurt the whole team. So I was thrilled when we bounced back immediately. We showed huge character and raised our game by several notches to play with both intensity and discipline. 

The final in Lahore was an equally impressive performance and I was really proud of the team. There were several outstanding performances but Dilshan, of course, was deservingly named Man of the Match for his unbeaten 137. 

However, Dilshan was well-supported by Sanath (Jayasuriya), Sanga (Kumar Sangakkara) and Thilina Kandamby. It was not easy batting early on with the ball moving around. We, however, knew we had to be patient and manoeuvre the ball into the gaps for singles, twos and threes. That’s something we did really well. 

Having scored 309-5, I was obviously confident. You would be if you were as fortunate a captain as I am. Any skipper would love to have a bowling lineup that has been performing consistently well in the past six months. I am lucky to have the genius of Murali and the magic of Ajantha Mendis in his team, but our fast bowlers were the unsung heroes in Pakistan. 

Nuwan Kulasekera has now taken 48 wickets in his last 28 matches during the past year and Thilan Thushara—his new ball partner after Chaminda Vaas was dropped—has claimed 30 wickets in 22 games. Both have been consistently accurate and they excelled on Saturday evening. Both bowled in the right areas and found just enough movement. 

During the upcoming series against India, I hope they’ll be similarly effective. But we appreciate that India are stronger and better organised compared to our recent opponents and we will have to raise our game another notch. We lost 2-3 last August and this is our chance to avenge that defeat. 

I am sure the focus will be on Mendis and he will be a big threat. Don’t forget Murali and he’s itching to overtake Wasim Akram’s world record of 502 ODI wickets. However, our batsmen need to score the big runs required to put India under pressure. Our top-order has been inconsistent in the recent past and that has been the major weakness of this team. We have to make amends.
The last two games have been promising with the new-look top order nicely balanced. Dilshan has solved our opening woes and Kandamby has batted with great maturity at No. 4. I have not be among the runs recently. 

However, I felt good in the last two games. In short, a big score is just round the corner. Sanga, Sanath and Kapugedera are all in good nick.