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Mahela Jayawardene - Cool, Calm and Collected

Only way we can keep the series alive is by winning Kolkata ODI, says Mahela



Wednesday, December 23, 2021
'We need to win'


With the scoreline reading 2-1, the series is almost perfectly set up as we head to Kolkata’s Eden Gardens. I say almost because we would have loved to hold the edge going into this big game, but all credit to the Indians for how they have played. The two teams have fought hard, but that close first game where we nearly chased down 414 has proven to be the tie-breaker at this stage.

I’ve played at Eden in Kolkata before and it is an experience that any cricketer will cherish. The large crowd really gets behind the Indian team, and as an opposition player it makes for a charged atmosphere that challenges and lifts you.

In the third ODI at Cuttack we failed to adjust to the conditions quickly enough. The pitch was different to what we had encountered before in the ODI series in that it was on the slow side and turned a lot more.

We got off to a great start with Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga and perhaps this played a part in us getting carried away and playing a few shots too many in the middle overs. This was not a 350 wicket, but rather one where 270 would have been a strong score. Especially given the combination we used, with one less batsman, we lost wickets upfront and put ourselves under pressure.

Even then, 239 might have been defendable had we got early wickets. But Sachin just controlled the game from one end and we couldn’t push for a win.

During the game and even after we spoke about how the pitch was getting slower and that we need to make the mindset adjustment from aiming for 300-plus to something more realistic. When I came in to bat things were set up for me to bat through the innings. But I got a very short ball, went for the pull and failed to find the gap. I’ve been hitting the ball well in the nets, and felt good out in the middle, but I really need to build my innings and bat long.

We realise that the need of the hour is to keep the series alive in Kolkata. Despite the injuries we’ve had – we’ve had to send four guys back and call for replacements in just one week – we’ve tried to put together the best possible combination depending on the conditions. We need to do that in Kolkata as well, and be relaxed and focussed at the same time.
 


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