Good that we aren't depending on favours - Jayawardene
Mahela Jayawardene is confident Sri Lanka can take plenty of positives from the tri-series even if they fail to beat Australia at the MCG and qualify for the finals. However, the Sri Lankans have by no means given up on the tournament, despite a loss to India in Hobart that could have left them demoralised.
In his first series back in the captaincy, Jayawardene has the chance to guide Sri Lanka in to the best-of-three finals against Australia. To get there, they need either to beat Australia or share the points through a tie or an abandoned match, and while there will be showers in Melbourne on Friday it is unlikely there will be enough to force a wash-out.
Jayawardene said the loss on Tuesday, when India picked up a bonus point and stayed in contention by chasing 321 within 37 overs, was less a result of poor Sri Lankan bowling than wonderful Indian batting, which was a good sign for his side. And with two wins from their last two games against Australia, Sri Lanka have a strong chance to progress.
"Going in to the last game it's in our control, what we need to do," Jayawardene said. "It's a good position for us to be, rather than depending on someone else to do some favours for us.
"From where we started on this tour, I think we've improved as a team and maintained a consistency. That's very important for us going forward. Whatever happens tomorrow we will definitely get a lot of positives out of this. Our challenge will be to try and keep this consistency going, because if we play the way we're playing now ... we'll win more matches than we lose. We're quite happy with that."
One of the most impressive aspects of Sri Lanka's series is that it has not just been the veterans who have stood up, although Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara were the centurions in the last match. Dinesh Chandimal has continued to develop as a dangerous middle-order batsman and Thisara Perera, 22, is second only to Lasith Malinga on Sri Lanka's wicket tally, which pleased Jayawardene.
"Going forward we've always wanted to have two or three allrounders in a team," he said. "These guys are taking responsibility. Angelo [Mathews] in the long run will probably be more of a batting allrounder than a bowling allrounder. We'd like Thisara to be more of a bowling allrounder so it fits in well.
"Plus [Farveez] Maharoof is a guy who can bat as well and he's bowling pretty well, he just needs to have a bit more confidence in his batting. All these three guys will be good options for us going forward. We just need a couple of spinning allrounders to come through and we'll have a really good balanced team."
Sri Lanka won't have Maharoof for Friday's game, however, after he suffered from lower back pain during the Hobart loss. His absence was a factor in Sri Lanka failing to defend their big total and Jayawardene said, while Virat Kohli had taken the match away from Sri Lanka, there were things his bowlers could learn from the experience.
"The [fast-bowling] guys did go to their strength, which is yorkers and stuff like that, but I think they [Indian batsmen] handled that pretty well," he said. "We didn't try too many things, that was probably due to the way the Indians were batting as well ... we probably just went with the momentum rather than trying to change it in the middle.
"Those are areas in which we can improve as a team … bowlers taking a bit more time and maybe having a bit more of a plan about what they want to do. Even if it's something out of the box, something totally different, there's no harm in trying something like that - which we didn't do. That's something we've spoken about with the bowlers because you have to expect these kind of situations in the future, we have to be prepared. Every game is a learning curve for everyone."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here