July 17, 2009

Series win a fantastic achievement - Jayawardene

Winning the second Test was a fantastic achievement and a great effort from all the guys in the team. The fact is that we are not playing brilliant Test cricket right now and there is some way for us to get to our best. So to play below par and take a 2-0 lead is really pleasing. As Kumar Sangakkara said afterwards, it reflects well on the teamwork and the fact that when we needed something special, someone put their hand up.

In the first innings the bowlers executed the gameplan perfectly. There is always a bit of movement in the pitch at the P Sara Oval during the first session of a Test and we also knew that Pakistan might not be comfortable considering what happened in Galle. We planned to hit them hard early and the bowlers did just that, with Nuwan Kulesekara a star.

In the batting department, we continued to make mistakes. I thought Sangakkara batted brilliantly, leading from the front, but the rest of us squandered starts and got out in our 20s. Personally, I thought with hindsight I was a little too negative in the first innings. I wanted to bat and bat. But against Pakistan's bowling line-up I was probably better playing my natural game, which I did in the second innings.

We were hoping to bat Pakistan out of the game, scoring over 400 in the first innings. Nevertheless, the 150-run lead was more than useful. However, they batted really well and at lunch on the third day things were getting quite tough for us. We were bracing ourselves then for a difficult chase of around 300, gettable but certainly not easy.

Sanga thought that using Rangana with the new ball might help him get some extra bite. It was sound thinking, especially because Pakistan seem uncomfortable against left-arm spin. We agreed that was the best way to go. The decision to use Tharanga Paranavitana's offbreaks as well with the new was Sanga's choice and it was also smart thinking considering the left-hander.

The thing is with captaincy is that you need to make bold decisions and you need to think out of the box and Sanga has been doing that. Sometimes it will work and he'll be applauded. Other times it may backfire and he'll be heavily criticised. That's life, sadly. Sanga knows it too and he has a tough skin so it will be fine for him.

Chasing 171, we decided to be positive. That is the best way to chase small totals. If you dilly-dally around and be over-cautious then you can run into trouble. I thought we batted really well and it was a clinical finish to a great Test match. We searched for scoring opportunities and we punished the bad ball. We have to continue that in the final Test.