March 31, 2012

As a captain, you love to be challenged

The win against England didn't come easy for Sri Lanka; which made it that much more special

Having had time to reflect on our victory in the first Test it feels even more special. We knew how important the opening match of a short series would be, and it was a huge challenge to take on the No. 1 team having not had much preparation because we were coming straight from the Asia Cup. There is a sense of relief that it didn't cost us, but we had to dig very deep and it's credit to all the players for the work they put in in the days before the match.

We made a few mistakes, but probably fewer than England. Good teams capitalise on mistakes, so you have to keep them to a minimum.

I thought we won the crucial moments. We managed to get a decent score on the board in the first innings and then bowled them out cheaply while the pitch was still good. When we collapsed again in the second innings, we managed to get some good partnerships from the lower order, which proved vital. The extra 60-70 runs we had was the difference.

I was delighted to make a significant contribution to the victory, and my hundred in the first innings will certainly go down as one of my best. When I look back on my centuries it's the ones that contribute to victory I savour the most. You can score doubles or triples, but if you do not win the game it does not feel as great. This time we were in trouble when I came in and we really had to pull ourselves through. But it wasn't just me. I could not have done it without help from the lower order; credit should also go to them. It was a good team effort. Even some of the guys who didn't do well with the bat pulled off fantastic catches, which were just as important.

Since Murali retired we have had to adapt to how we play Test cricket. It has taken time but I think we are making some real progress. We now need to squeeze every last run we can out of the lower order, which is why their performance in this Test was so pleasing. Everyone understands the value of their wicket and that they can have an impact. There is added responsibility on each player; bowlers need to score runs and in the field everyone needs to work that little bit harder do get us through. We have put in a lot of hard work and it's starting to pay off. As a unit we will improve.

Having a bowler like Murali certainly made captaincy easier, but I am really enjoying the challenge in front of me. It motivates me. As a captain you love to be challenged. You need to have a game plan and ensure your bowlers stick to it. Sometimes it will work and sometimes it won't. I hadn't captained the team for a long time and touring Australia was a great challenge, and that helped me during the first Test.

I know people were discussing the tactics I used in the second innings by putting fielders deep to cut off the boundaries. If we had lost I would probably have been criticised for being defensive, but I couldn't let the game run away from us

I knew I had Rangana [Herath] as my most experienced bowler and I spoke to him before the match to tell him there would be a lot of responsibility on his shoulders but that he had to enjoy it. I said that whatever happened, whether we won, lost or drew, he needed to enjoy the contest and not put too much pressure on himself. He responded wonderfully. Suraj Randiv also did a great job. He has been in and out of the side of the last 12 months and this will give him a lot of confidence. It's tough in our conditions for fast bowlers, but Chanaka Welegedara and Suranga Lakmal ran in all the time. Overall I'm quite happy with what I've got and the challenge it gives me.

I know people were discussing the tactics I used in the second innings by putting fielders deep to cut off the boundaries. If we had lost I would probably have been criticised for being defensive, but I couldn't let the game run away from us, especially when there was an attacking batsman like Matt Prior in the middle. We had also dropped a couple of chances earlier; if we had taken them I would have been able to attack for longer.

Although the bowlers dominated the match it was a good pitch, and when the ball got softer, around the 60-over mark, it became tough to take wickets. I needed to buy us some time before the new ball, which I knew would create more chances, and so it proved. Jonathan Trott played superbly, but he's not an attacking batsman, so I wanted to try to dry him up for as long as possible. It was a wonderful innings from him, but I always knew we'd get a chance.

We are very confident going into the second Test but know we have to improve. We certainly didn't play the perfect game. It will be a historic occasion at the P Sara Oval next week, the ground where Sri Lanka played their first Test 30 years ago. However, it's not just about the last 30 years but the many years before that, when cricket was so important to Sri Lanka and for all the cricketers who played for Ceylon, who helped put us where we are now. I'll be very proud to be on the field on Tuesday and even prouder if we can claim a series victory.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene is the country's leading Test run-scorer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 3, 2012, 18:43 GMT

    @Jerry Louis mate, I think someone else has already shared what you wrote, so wouldn't it be repetition? Don't be so careless dude, based on what you went on a limb and said Sri Lankans are flat track bullies, matter of fact it was officially stamp on India recently when India visited England and Australia. Given India tour of England was in summer which was quite easy compare to season, albeit India lost miserably WHITE WASH in other words. In Australia India hadn't been won a single match against Australia for more than a month till we Sri Lanka came and beat Aussie thrice in a row within a short period of two weeks. So my friend if you are considering late performance, there are you go! Indians are the FLAT TRACK BULLIES NOT us. Cheers mate!

  • Dummy4 on April 3, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    Testing kindly ignore! Guys who are talking about india's performace outside india, We have done well abraod between 2002 and 2011; We have won the series in Engalnd, Windies, Pakisthan..wont the tests in SA , Aus..drwan serieses with them..SL are real flat track bullies...Jayawardene can only score runs in SL...checks the stats..With Maurali gone, Malinga is ready to go SL is going back to 1980s..

  • Dummy4 on April 2, 2012, 17:28 GMT

    I simply love how this guy approaches the game. A true modern sportsman with the classical touch. Always a fan of you, Mahela. All the best.

  • Dummy4 on April 2, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    My previous comment was a reply @S.Jagernath whom is my friend from India. @Venki_indian stats are itself overrated mate, otherwise how come England remained # 1 team despite losing last four test matches they played and how come India remained # 3 after losing 8 test matches in a row. Can u just enlighten me as to how you claim Sri Lanka is overrated cos we r at the bottom of the test rank, was that the logic?

    Anyway you seemed to be having more and enough fun by dishing out Sri Lankan cricket but my friend I hope everything is well for India. Nice to read your comments cos it gave me the laugh of the day! Cheers!

  • ameer on April 2, 2012, 14:10 GMT

    Dear Mahela, I don't know if you do read these comments, but just in case you do, I want to let you know your just a great cricketer and human being, dont worry about these haters who have written here, for me ur better than Sachin or Viru etc because your centuries are match winning ones, which is more important. If you were someone who went for individual runs you would be in the top 5 am sure, but you did not and sacrificed the statisitcs for your country, I enjoy those moments that you have provided to us as fans. Making us love the game again after those dismal 6 months with Dilly, we enjoy your batting and captaincy good luck for the next game and please don't loose your wicket so early because your a pleasure to watch when your batting

  • Dummy4 on April 2, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    @venki_indian >> If you are not interested in Sri Lanka,why did you read our captain's article? Can your so called very good captain Dhoni write or even talk like this? Sri Lanka has the most intelligent and educated players in world criket,in Sangakkara and Mahela. Indian are idiotic slum morons. Shut up and mind your own business

  • Dummy4 on April 2, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    @mate you got to be kidding me :D Your list of batsmen who are currently active in test cricket that are better than Jayawardene is just I don't know, maybe baseless, no offence mean though.

    Let me clear up one thing for you; yes you are correct they all are active but active doesn't make any batsmen better than any other batsmen. Matter of fact Mahela is an active batsmen too in Test as well as ODI (Maybe you weren't clear as to what you were articulating :D)

    Anyway in your list Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag this shows clearly you have been out of the test cricket for quite some time.

    If my mind serves right Ponting is there anymore (= hence, automatically eliminated from your list) Sachin (took more than 10 Test matches to score his 100th test which he finally got against Bangladesh that's also a losing knock) Virender Shewag, needless to say has been axed from the team under the guise of resting. Do I need to go any further to show how bad your comment is?

  • venkat on April 2, 2012, 11:11 GMT

    @ram Prashanth excellent stats man..not only jayawrdene is overrated..SL is a overrated team...They are on the bottom half of test rankings..only Bdesh,Windies,Newzeland behind them..LOL @John Walker Fun to see ur the way i support SL in Second test

  • Dummy4 on April 2, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    Venki_indian 26 in 80 years (ind) and 14 in 30 years (sl). Who's better

  • Sheethal on April 2, 2012, 5:05 GMT

    @Ram Prasath.. keep it going man!!

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