ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Sri Lanka v Canada, World Cup 2011, Hambantota
Jayawardene says there is still work ahead
Sa'adi Thawfeeq in Hambantota
February 20, 2011
Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka vice-captain, said he was pleased with Sri Lanka's start to the World Cup but there was still a lot of hard work ahead of his team in the tournament. Jayawardene scored the fastest century by a Sri Lanka player in any World Cup, when he got to the landmark off 80 balls in their first game of the tournament, against Canada in Hambantota on Sunday. The previous fastest hundred was off 85 balls by Sanath Jayasuriya, against Bangladesh in 2007.
"We had a few nerves before the game started, just to get on with the World Cup in front of our own crowd," Jayawardene said. "It's not easy to play a team like Canada. You've got to make sure that you come in prepared. It's a good start but we've got a lot of hard work ahead of us with other teams."
After electing to bat, Sri Lanka had got off to a relatively sluggish start, with the scoring rate having dipped below five runs an over by the time Jayawardene came in. He credited Canada's bowlers for that, but said it was always the plan to keep wickets in hand.
"To be fair on the Canadian side they bowled really well. They bowled in good areas to start off with, and [Tillakaratne] Dilshan couldn't get away and neither did Upul [Tharanga], but it was important for us to keep wickets in hand. We had a good partnership between Kumar [Sangakkara] and me. We needed to change that rhythm a bit in the middle overs and we managed to do that and took control of the game."
After Jayawardene was dismissed to a tired shot just after he got his century, Sri Lanka lost some quick wickets in the end overs, sparking further doubts over their inexperienced middle order, which is considered one of the few weaknesses they have in their side. Jayawardene, however, praised the middle order for doing what he described as "dirty work" in going after the bowlers rather than trying to preserve their wickets.
"We can't blame those guys because they went on to accelerate and obviously we will lose a few wickets in that situation. There was another case where we could have taken a run a ball and probably got 300 and would have been happy. But the guys are doing some dirty work for us so and we need to appreciate that.
"When the right time comes, as we saw in the warm-up game against West Indies , the middle order clicked, and in the other warm-up against Holland too, we batted very well. Everyone's got a role to play in our team and according to the situations they will come up and play those roles. There is no point just going out there and blocking the ball and not getting out. It's all about doing the job for the team."
Sri Lanka are one of the hosts of the tournament but have not had a chance to play an ODI at two of their new stadiums - the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota and the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium - but Jayawardene said they were happy with the time they got to practice in Hambantota. "The first couple of practice sessions we had [in Hambantota], we realised the wickets were really good. Everything went smoothly for us. From the players point of view there are no complaints. We knew we could score 250 to 300 on this wicket."
Sri Lanka's strong batting performance on Sunday was backed up by an equally impressive showing by the bowlers, even in the absence of Lasith Malinga. Jayawardene confirmed Malinga's absence was just precautionary and said he would play in their next game, against Pakistan on February 26.
"Lasith had a bit of a back strain. He played in the West Indies game as well so we didn't want to risk him. He bowled yesterday and he was okay but given the fact that we have got a couple of crucial games coming up we thought that he should get a break. He'll get into his stride in the next few days and should be okay for the Pakistan game."