Jayawardene eyeing finisher's role at Daredevils
Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka captain, has said he will complement the big-hitting batsmen at his new IPL franchise, the Delhi Daredevils, and will try to play the role of a finisher. Jayawardene was one of 16 players from the terminated Kochi IPL franchise up for auction yesterday in Bangalore, and was bought by the Daredevils for US$1.4 million, making him the second-most expensive player on the day after Ravindra Jadeja. He said he was looking forward to playing with the likes of Virender Sehwag, David Warner and the newly acquired Kevin Pietersen.
"I will leave those guys to do the big hitting and do what I know best: control the innings and finish off games, if I can," Jayawardene told ESPNcricinfo. "Wherever they want me to bat is fine. I will try and find a role in the team."
The Daredevils struggled to make runs consistently last season, missing out on the playoffs for the first time, but Jayawardene said he was pleased to be part of a franchise with a consistent record. "Obviously, after what happened with Kochi, you hope that someone will pick you up and you get to play in the IPL. Delhi has had four good seasons. It will be good to be part of that."
The scrapping of the Kochi team means the Daredevils will be Jayawardene's third franchise in five years, but he said he was looking forward to the challenge of getting "used to how they do things and understand how they want to play". Describing the IPL season as a "rollercoaster", Jayawardene said the key to a successful season was getting everyone in the squad on the same page and chasing the same goals.
"You have to have a very positive mind to go through these five or six weeks of cricket. It is very arduous. How you manage losing as a team is very important. How you come back and win two games to get the momentum back ... it is a roller coaster. You have to enjoy it. There is no other way of doing it."
The demand for Jayawardene's services is proof that it is not just the thumpers that earn the big bucks in Twenty20 cricket. It helps that he is one of only three batsmen - Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum are the other two - to have scored a hundred in Tests, ODIs, Twenty20 internationals and IPL games. According to him, the shortest version of the game requires both technical and mental adjustments. "You need to find what your strengths are and any areas in which you can improve. Everything happens so quickly. You have to adjust accordingly and make decisions with a clear mind. Everything you do is not going to be the right thing, but if you have a clear mind and make the adjustments you will do well."
One of the attributes of the IPL is that it gives players from different countries a chance to be on the same team and Jayawardene believes this has had a positive effect on international cricket. "We [the players] understand each other off the field, how we are as team-mates. You have that mutual respect for each other. It has definitely helped to have a better understanding of teams and individual players."
Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo