Australia v Sri Lanka, CB Series, 3rd final, Adelaide

'We weren't given a chance of getting anywhere' - Jayawardene

Sidharth Monga at Adelaide Oval

March 8, 2012

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Sri Lanka get together after Michael Hussey's run out, Australia v Sri Lanka, CB Series, 3rd final, Adelaide, March 8, 2012
Sri Lanka did well to restrict Australia but could not chase a modest total © Getty Images
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Sri Lanka came, Sri Lanka competed, Sri Lanka injected life into the one-sided Australian summer, Sri Lanka won some hearts, but fell at the last hurdle after having restricted Australia to a below-par 231. The Man of the Series came from their side, as did the highest run-getter and highest wicket-taker. Mahela Jayawardene, the captain, admitted even he did not believe the side could fashion such a performance after the drastic changes to the setup just before the Commonwealth Bank series; but that they could not win the tournament left Jayawardene in a state of mixed emotions.

"I am a hard taskmaster," Jayawardene said. "I am quite happy and proud of the way the boys played. We were very consistent. Under pressure we have handled a lot of situations really well. Even with injuries, the guys who came in put their hands up and performed.

"But we were here to get a job done, which was to win a tournament. Credit goes to the Australians because they played better cricket than us today and handled situations better. We didn't win and because of that some of the sheen will go off the hard work we put in before."

What will rankle Sri Lanka more is that they had done well to restrict Australia, and the game was going exactly to script for them, with a target of 40 fewer than what they had smashed two nights ago at the same venue. "I thought we did really well to keep them to 230," Jayawardene said. "They could have easily got 260. We managed to pull them back. If you had offered us a target of 230 in the morning, we would have accepted it.

"The only thing we didn't do well was have partnerships up front, which we have been consistently putting up in the entire tournament. Losing four wickets up front didn't help the cause. When you are chasing totals, it is important to keep wickets in hand. That's probably where we went wrong. Still, the boys fought well. Upul [Tharanga] batted really well. Thiri [Lahiru Thirimanne], [Farveez] Maharoof, and everyone got us close. There were lots of mistakes but we still came close."

This somehow has been the case for Sri Lanka in the last two World Cup finals, a World Twenty20 final, and now in Australia. Jayawardene doesn't see a trend there. He takes heart from the fact that they are consistently making it that far. "If you take that view it can be very disappointing, in saying that we haven't won finals. But the brighter picture is that we have been very consistent for the last 10 years or so in all big tournaments. We won the Asia Cup [in Pakistan in 2008]. Even in the last World Twenty20 we were in the semi-finals in the Caribbean. So that's what you need from a team. Being there and thereabouts all the time, and being competitive. As long as we continue to do that we are very happy."

Jayawardene said there was nothing in particular that they were missing and that if you looked at the big picture what Sri Lanka had achieved in the CB series had been impressive given the circumstances.

"It's not that we don't know how to win big tournaments. As a team, as a captain, I am not disappointed because when we came to Australia we were not given any chance of getting anywhere, but we showed a lot of character. In tough situations, we played some really good cricket. And it's not easy when you have a new captain, a new coach and a new way of thinking.

"Everyone responded really well. From now onwards we will try and keep building on that, and probably get all these injuries sorted out. We will work on our bench strength so we have replacements for everybody. We have to look into all those problems because we have got a lot of cricket ahead of us.

"The only disappointment here has been the finals. We needed to win these big games. It would have been brilliant and all the hard work would have been worth it if we had done that."

One of the more difficult parts of adapting to the change in the Sri Lankan team would have been getting Tillakaratne Dilshan, the outgoing captain, to get into a frame of mind where he could play his best cricket. He is too good a cricketer to not make use of. Dilshan responded brilliantly with two centuries, superb fielding and tidy bowling whenever needed.

"Dilly and I have a very good relationship," Jayawardene said. "We had a good chat. He was quite happy and we had to identify a role for him in the side. He is still part of the senior group, still part of the leadership. His role is to perform freely and at the same time guide the younger guys in the side, give them the confidence.

"I thought he had an outstanding tournament and will probably continue to do that. We can build a team around these leaders in the team. Kumar [Sangakkara], myself and Dilshan, we have got the responsibility to develop a team for the future."

Later this year Jayawardene, Sangakkara and Dilshan will get to play their first Test at the MCG. They have left at least some promise for those who have always been skeptical of giving Sri Lanka that opportunity. "That's way too far away for Sri Lankan cricket [to talk about now], I can tell you that," Jayawardene joked. "Anything can happen during that period of time. I've got my fingers crossed."

Edited by Dustin Silgardo

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by rajabojuna on (March 10, 2012, 5:11 GMT)

How very disappointing it was to see our top order not crafting a foundation to achieve the modest total and victory! True, they clicked really well in the second final, but that surely is no guarantee of invincibility, and when the first two wickets fell, the Lankans should have had a back-up plan to slow down, play sensibly and gain ground gradually via singles, which they really showed they could do, in previous games. How very disappointing, I say again. I hope they learn from this - the vast following of fans that Sri Lanka has really really wants to see the team get stronger psychologically and not allow one or two successes get the better of them, else they become easy meat for the predators out there!

Posted by diehardslfan on (March 10, 2012, 0:05 GMT)

SL's top order 3 should realise how hurting it has been for the fans. We lost due to sheer arrogance, particularly on the part of Sangakkara. In his mind "oh, what is 231, when we got 274 for 2, lets try and finish it in 30 overs". It`s time it`s knocked into their heads that arrogance doesn't pay. Malinga should be rested for a couple of weeks. I cannot understand why Kapugedera was played,he`s been failing and failing and failing in the past. Senenayaka should have been the rightful choice. Hope they will learn but how long will this take.A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY was thrown away !

Cannot however take away the credit that goes to Mahela`s captaincy. Thanks also to those Indian fans for their support for Sri Lanka, you are a great neighbour.

Posted by Sageleaf on (March 9, 2012, 18:40 GMT)

So Mahela you don't see a trend? Well, I see it because I'm not blind. "We came closer" but you couldn't cross the finishing line. How many more times do you need? Mahela its good be arrogant in the field but even the weakest link will help you win matches. I'm bit surprised why Chanaka Welagedara did not get any single match. Sorry, how could he when Marvan did not get any world cup match in 2007. Asia cup is going to be no go because you guys have never figured out how to win against Pakistan. I told Marvan if you play Malinga, you will kiss good bye for the cup and it happened. I hope he doesn't go for Asia cup cause India and Pakistan will have feast on him. There is something radically wrong with our selection and people are too blind to see it.

Posted by Kavum on (March 9, 2012, 18:39 GMT)

Mahela reminds me of the Eric Idle character in the final scene of Monty Python's "Life of Brian". There are no negatives, its all downhill but nothing is a defeat. Ridiculous. He took over a shambolic team and made it into a competitive one; well done. Without Clarke, Cummins etc., the Aussies could have beeen beaten. But all we have are these pathetic excuses and justifications. He (MJ) may not want to win but SL supporters desperately want the team to finish on top - for the first time since 1996! Time to retire these media-friendly geniuses and get some real rural talent with love for the country who will not play for the next IPL contract but will do or die for the nation.

Posted by Sageleaf on (March 9, 2012, 18:26 GMT)

Mahela I said before you left to Australia that, "A true heart of champion cannot be challenged". But I think you just gave the match away. The losses if you analyzed its funny how we feel about it. Why did Malinga play with an injury? Malinga went for 69 runs and the top order batted so badly. It was so pathetic to see how Sanga got out. Mind you this is the finale and what were you guys thinking? I feel it's about time another captain take over cause you and Sanga cannot finish a final. It's ongoing since 2007 World Cup finals. We badly need young blood like Bhanuka Rajapkse, and many others. If Dinesh Chandimal can bat well how come you guys cannot? Don't you guys have commitment playing for your nation? Malinga and Mathews should go for rehab for at least 6 months. I wish you guys were playing for Australia, because some of you guys would be not playing now. It's sad that we keep saying the same old story over and over again after a loss.

Posted by miles100 on (March 9, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

Billy_Gutty, Either you don't know much about cricket batting technique or You must be out of your mind to say Jayawardena didn't play cricketing strokes. When Mahela was scoring his centuries as an under 11/13 player, I don't think Clarke, warner or hussey brothers have ever seen a cricket bat. Please watch some replays to see talented Mahela's batting style and too hard working less talented Aussie batsmen's batting style.Indian batsmen like Tendulkar, Kohili, Dhoni are all hardworking batsmen and not talented batsmen while Mohammad Azurudeen was a very talented batsmen Really talented and potential batsman is also Herchellle Gibs. Also Sanga is a hardworking batsman who worked so hard on his technique.

Posted by KingOwl on (March 9, 2012, 13:05 GMT)

Very disappointing loss. The more so because they were the best team in the tournament and the Aussie score was below par. I would not go so far as to say there is a trend of losing finals. Mostly because this was probably the only time they were some what of favourites and then lost. Other times, they were always the underdogs in the finals, mostly against a great Aussie side. But even against India in the WC finals because it was played on a flat track in India. Having said that, this was an opportunity not taken. Mahela should feel gutted. Having done a great job, missed the final hurdle. Fault lies with the three seniors. They should have made at least one 50 amongst them.

Posted by sl_supporter on (March 9, 2012, 12:55 GMT)

Well played SL. It is disapointing that they couldn't win the finals. But may be it is a good thing, take the positives and improve more. There are couple of things we could, should have done better. But no point in talking them now. What they really should work is fitness of the fast bowlers. It is could hear that cricket board has instructed clubs to prepare fast wickets and that is one step forward wtih 2015 world cup in Australia.

Posted by cpoi on (March 9, 2012, 11:59 GMT)

Hai guys,did u read my comment that i post on 07.03.12,exactly thats what happened! Sri Lanka came, Sri Lanka competed, Sri Lanka injected life in to the Australian summer,And Sri Lanka won many hearts, but fell at the last hurdle after having restricted Australia to a below-par 231,this is history now but sad to note is that some people (LankaParaya and many more) in this colomn saying 'Go back red carpet is ready' absurd things,now i have a suggestion if u people r listening,its hard but good for SL cricket in the future,Pls everybody push the SL board/SL government to make 'fast pitches'in the future in SL.U see new comers to Aus.. Played a big contribution/impact on those fast pitches,we will never ever be compatitive in Aus..,N/Z..,S/A.,W/I..,pitches when we play test cricket/one day cricket,so somebody have to push,maybe after mahela/sanga retires and if they were selected to the SL cricket board in the future,hope that they try to make fast pitches in SL soil otherwise !!!!

Posted by VEGHA on (March 9, 2012, 11:34 GMT)

I am Indian but the fact that Sri Lanka deserved to be in the final since everyone have contributed and fought. The fighting spirit of SL cricketers are to be appreciated and Sangakkara and Dilshan even though they were former captains but they supported Jayawardhane well. I can say in today cricket Mahela is one of the best captain and by clear filed placement he enjoy the game of cricket. I can say he is master and really I appreciate his captaincy

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