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Sri Lanka v Canada, World Cup 2011, Hambantota

Jayawardene says there is still work ahead

Sa'adi Thawfeeq in Hambantota

February 20, 2011

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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."

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Posted by Dummy4 on (February 24, 2011, 0:47 GMT)

I live in Canada, & as I was watching this match, I realized, as most of guys say ,our (srilanka) middle order is week.I am sure that it has to be looked after, If we want to bring the CUP back home. All the best Sl boys. I am sure YOU can do it.

Posted by Menuka on (February 23, 2011, 18:27 GMT)

Did anybody noticed Thisara bowling around low 140 Km ? Geez, this guy is improving rapidly. He is amongst wickets these days and you can't consider him as a slow medium pacer anymore.. what if SL play him instead of Mendis and go with 3:1 pace/spin attack (Malinga,Kule,Thisara,Murali) along with mathews & Dilli as back up, considering the fact Pakistani's are good against spinners. It could come in handy as batting line up also become stronger with this.

Posted by Udara on (February 23, 2011, 16:18 GMT)

@nuzrai , yes man wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This looks the best batting line up. Hope our management will get the same idea. good luck sri lanka!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Deleepa on (February 23, 2011, 10:24 GMT)

@ Cannuck - Glad you agree with me mate. I don't think we should shake up the batting line up now by shuffling Kapugedara to the top of the order. I think Chamara Silva (although i am not a big fan of him) will be back after the funeral to join the squad for the Pakistan game. Also against Pakistan Rangana Herath should play instead of Mendis. Pakistan and India pick Mendis nowadays. Mendis should only play against Aussie and New Zealand. Also I don't mind bringing in an extra spinner instead of Kapugedara - atleast he'll score more than Kapugedara.

Posted by Rajinda on (February 22, 2011, 20:32 GMT)

@ WPDDESILVA, Agree 100% with you. Talent is nothing if Kapu can't perform. His shot selections are bad & pressure gets to him. I think Perera is a better option even with Maling in the side, cause both of them would score more than Kapu. Someone told me that Kapu is a good fielder. So what, the whole SL team is good in fielding! In a way I agree with nuzrai. May be now that he is in the squad, opening batting might help him. There's no pressure as he would know there's batting behind him. So it could loosen him up. BUT this experiment should have happened during the warm ups, or at least with Canada. Not in the next few games when we have to win against better teams like PAK & AUS. Mahela is being politically correct, not throwing his team mates under the bus, which will only bring the moral down. But both he, Sanga & the management knows the issue. But my question is, with all his failures, how does Kapu keep sneaking in to the squad? Wonder who's got his back covered @ SL Cricket?

Posted by Deleepa on (February 22, 2011, 11:45 GMT)

I cannot believe sri lankan fans still saying Kapugedara should be playing. He only scored 2 runs against Canada - Canada should be batting practice for the line up. He hasn't performed - He's costing us games and that middle order looks worse with him. Talent doesn't count - performance counts. Since Dilshan and Arnold left that No 6 and No 7 positions we never had that consistency there - If Sri Lankan is not going to win the Cup it will be because of the middle order. Top order looks solid and the bowling looks awesome. Axe Kapugedara and I don't mind having a bowler instead cos you can utilise him to bowl some overs!! That means you can go with 6 batters and five bowlers!! I am sure the extra bowler will score better than Kapugedara!!

Posted by nuzair on (February 22, 2011, 6:42 GMT)

My playing 11 against pakistan. 1.dilshan 2. kapu 3. sanga 4. mahela. 5. thilan 6.silva 7. mathews. 8. perera 9. kula 10. herath. 11. malinga.. since tharanga is slow can try kapu to open . part timers can used for spin ( dilshan,thilan,kapu, chamara). All the best.

Posted by Tharindu on (February 22, 2011, 3:49 GMT)

@ Satiskuma - man, he has had the opportunity to bat many overs too. he has had many types of situations as a batsman and rarely he has played well in the recent past. But I agree still he is a potential player but we cant the risk the world cup opportunity on him. Mahela was a failure in 2003 and I remember we all opted his inclusion in the side in later tournament. But now u see what a wonderful cricketer he turned out to be.

@ randikaayya - you are right, Mahela is a good player to open. he has proved it IPL, Sri Lanka T20 and domestic. But Upul Tharanga's recent form is also not bad. Canada game first ten overs like reading the pitch on real game condition and even Dilshan missed out easy pickings. Upul Tharanga is an open batsman and placing Mahela at the top means we have to drop Tharanga and then risk the things to unsteady middle order. When Mahela is @ 4, he is likely to play around Kapugedara, Samaraweera.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 21, 2011, 15:35 GMT)

It is high time they drop Chamara Kapugedara from the team, he has given enough chances to prove him self, let the other Chamara play.

Posted by Michael on (February 21, 2011, 12:29 GMT)

Mahela played a model one day innings against Canada. No crash, bang, wallop stuff. Great placement, shot selection and running. The innings of a class batsman. However, his defence of the middle order suggests concern within the camp about it. In the circumstances, Samaraweera played a good innings, but, Kapugedera, Mathews and Perera did not. Kapugedera does not start well and will always struggle in those circumstances. Perera has still to realise that he has the talent to play match winning innings at his position. Shot selection is paramount. Mathews is an intelligent and talented player and will come good. Credit to Canada for fighting hard.

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