Mahela Jayawardene
Sri Lanka's captain and leading Test run scorer

The start of World Twenty20 preparations

The games against Pakistan, and the one against India, are the chance to zero in on our perfect Twenty20 squad

Mahela Jayawardene

May 31, 2012

Comments: 51 | Text size: A | A

Mahela Jayawardene plays a hook, Australia v Sri Lanka, Commonwealth Bank Series, 2nd final, Adelaide, March 6, 2012
"Opening the batting has given me the same kind of freedom I enjoyed as a schoolboy" © Getty Images

It's been a long season on the road for myself, having played a full season of the IPL. I knew it was going to be particularly long so in order to stay fit and alert, I have been trying to keep things simple, focus on my game and manage recoveries properly. Touch wood, things have been okay so far. I also make sure I do not push myself too hard. I don't see us getting any breaks real soon, at least till the next IPL.

There is a lot of Twenty20 cricket being played and over the years, I think our players have got a measure of it to a certain extent. But like any other format, it keeps evolving. People are coming up with new tactics so you need to keep ahead of everybody else. You can't make too many mistakes in the shorter versions.

Personally, Twenty20 has taken me back to the way I used to play. In that sense, the freedom with which I play my strokes doesn't really surprise me because as a schoolboy, this was how I batted. I used to play quite aggressively. When I started playing international cricket, I realised I really had to tighten my game and take more responsibility. In Test cricket you don't always have too much freedom. In one-dayers, for a long period of time you have to build your innings, especially at my position at No. 4. Opening the batting has given me the same kind of freedom I enjoyed as a schoolboy.

I have enjoyed a fair amount of success as an opener in Twenty20, but my presence at the top depends on the team combination. Tillakaratne Dilshan and I have built up a decent opening partnership in the last couple of years or so. Even in one-day cricket I regularly open the batting. We're trying to be more flexible as well, because going into the World T20, we need to have a good idea on what kind of squad we need. We're using these two games, plus the one T20 against India, to find the right combination so we will mix and match. This is the start of an important series for us so we need to make a statement.

It's a fact that we've hardly played Twenty20 cricket as a unit over the last six months. However, if you look at the IPL, quite a few of our players were involved in it in one way or the other so, individually, that's a lot of Twenty20 cricket. With the three upcoming games (two against Pakistan and one with India), plus the upcoming Sri Lanka Premier League, that should be enough to prepare us for the World T20.

Those players who have not had the benefit of match practice in the IPL have been training over the last few weeks on their fitness. The period after the England Tests was the best time to do that. They've also spent time working on their skill sets. We had about six-seven guys training specifically for the Test series and some for the ODIs and T20s. Taking Dinesh Chandimal's example, halfway through the IPL his franchise realised he wasn't going to play so he was sent back to train with the national squad. It was nice of Rajasthan Royals to release him. It has all been done in a systematic way so that the preparation hasn't been compromised.

As for our bowling reserves, I feel Nuwan Kulasekara is right up there to give Lasith Malinga the support he needs. We're trying a few young guys so we need to see how they come up. Thisara (Perera) and Angelo (Mathews) have been around for a while so I'm glad I've got a couple of allrounders I can always bank on. I'm also very excited about Sachithra Senanayake, the offspinner, who had a good time in Australia. Ajantha Mendis is coming back from injury, so we're going to gradually build him up, perhaps try him at some point in the Pakistan series or against India. We rested Rangana (Herath) because he had a knee operation but he might play him in the one-dayers. There's good competition as well and it's healthy.

Pakistan will be a challenge because have a nice blend of youth and experience. From the squad of 15, they've got a lot of variety in their bowling armoury. What makes them competitive is the sort of bowling options available, apart from the specialists. All in all, it should be a competitive T20 series.

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

RSS Feeds: Mahela Jayawardene

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (June 1, 2012, 23:43 GMT)

SL will win 2-0 against Pak- they will also win the World T20 this year

Posted by cravin on (June 1, 2012, 18:01 GMT)

Mahela you are one of the BEST captain and a good player against spin, however I don't thin you are NOT the ideal player to OPEN for SL. You are not a naturally aggrieve player like DLISHA or Jaysooria. We have plenty of naturally aggressive players in SL but they don't get their opportunist's to bat on the TOP at least in T20 thanks to you (Mahela) and Sanagaara. I think Banuka or Kapugadar should give a chance to open. If you really like to open the batting open in TEST not in T20.Players like Kapugadara and Banuka are naturally aggressive players should bat higher in T20 also Tisara Perara should bat higher like DONI. If Kapgara don't open he should at least bat ahead of Mahela and Sagakara. If the youngster fail at least experience players can build the inning not the other-way round.

Posted by khurramsch on (June 1, 2012, 16:54 GMT)

very poor from pakistans specially all the come back men, only ahmed shehzad stayed a bit longer. rest of them very poor. khalid latif havent got 20 over strike rate more than 100. you cant pick only on basis of bpl. sami failed as ever. shoiab malik always good in domestic for past many years but international comebacks very poor.

afridi & akmal played iresponsibly as usual. umar gul was also expensive. pakistan should have played hamad azam or 1 more batsman. they didnt even bowled malik & afrid also not bowled full.they badly need a batting medium pace allrounder.

Posted by khurramsch on (June 1, 2012, 16:54 GMT)

i dont agree with this talk that players get match wining practice from ipl bpl ppl or slpl or whatever. if this was tru india would have won all 3 t20 cups or in finals of all 3. last ipl was just before t20 cups.even this match most of league players didnt performed too well.

Posted by WickyRoy.paklover on (June 1, 2012, 8:59 GMT)

@Kavum,lolz,also add ths nonesense"shakib z best,shakib z legend,blah blah blah,"i dn't know what these bd people would have done had they got 1 or 2 more of these type of ove.ratd plyrs,hahaha

Posted by   on (June 1, 2012, 8:47 GMT)

Its going to be a competition between Pakistani bowlers and Sri lankan batsmen, Pakistani batting looks weak on paper but if they can bat well they have the bowling to beat Sri Lanka. None of the Sri Lankan batsmen had a fantastic IPL so they are not in best of form. My prediction 1-1

Posted by Kavum on (June 1, 2012, 6:25 GMT)

June=rain in SL; even in arid zone Hambantota at times. May be the best chance to avoid a hammering. Malinga's bowling dropped away alarmingly towards the end of the Incredibly Pointless League and Sanga was woeful. Dilly and Mahela were on the low side of average. Overrated Mathews and Kula were well below par and could not make any impact. Good luck and may the better team (guess who?) win. Bring back Tamim!! (Sorry read too many comments from Pune Warriors/Bangla fans)

Posted by SangakaraFan on (June 1, 2012, 4:37 GMT)

Most of the Sri Lankans players have come back from a tough season of competaive IPL matches and are match fit whereas all pakistani players were watching our Sri lankan players on TV sets playing IPL. My prediction -->Sri lanka 2-0.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (June 1, 2012, 4:31 GMT)


Posted by   on (June 1, 2012, 4:09 GMT)

I think Pakistan team is fresh and fit right now and chances they can beat a tired IPL Sri lanka side. Thanks to IPL that present Pakistanis squad were not considered for IPL and it would do world of good to Pakistanis in the important T20 international encounter instead of the T20 Domestic IPL encounter.

Posted by   on (June 1, 2012, 3:55 GMT)

pak does not have any batsman in the top5 bat rankings

Posted by   on (June 1, 2012, 3:52 GMT)

sl will win sangakara , dilshan and mathews will play 50's today.pak will be 92 all out.

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (May 31, 2012, 22:56 GMT)

If u wana prepare for world cup T20 my team would have been..

(1) imran nazir (2) Ahmad Shahzad (3) Hafeez (4) Asad Shafiq/ Haris sohail (5) Umer Akmal (6) Afridi (7) Kamran Akmal (8) Rana naveed/ Sohail tanvir/ Hammad Azam (9) Umer Gul (10) Sami (11) Ajmal

Beat this team and you are champs

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 20:21 GMT)

Sri Lanka in their home has always been a challenge. So I am not expecting an easy tour for us -- Pakistan has to come up with better planning. Kamran Akmal and Imran Nazir should've have been selected in T20 series. And Like other Pakistanis, Sri Lanka is my second Favorite Team so good luck to Both team :)

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 20:02 GMT)

i´m soooooo much exited, cann´t wait till start the game. Two great teams in the cricket world. Hope for a good challenge btw. these tow teams. There are so many stars.

Posted by WickyRoy.paklover on (May 31, 2012, 16:02 GMT)

@Brian Richmand,man! We lost that series due to our great misbha,thankfuly he z no more in t2 side n hence u people gonna see d real face of pak t20 side,which z ströng,dominatng n hence victorious,keep ur fingrs crosd! Pak z easily in t20 wc semis even without playng,@travis thomas,how can u forget afridi,gull,ajmal,hafeez(wrld bst t20 bowlrs),pls excitng shazad,umar akmal n malik,i thnk t20,test r in pak's hand jst odis z d problem

Posted by Sinhaya on (May 31, 2012, 15:39 GMT)

@Hafeez_Malik, dont count the chickens before they hatch. Sri Lanka has a better batting lineup than Pakistan.

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 15:38 GMT)

Shahid Afridi and Ajmal will be the biiggest Threat to Srilanka. If they remember a recent series.... and please dont say Srilanka 2-0 Win. Srilinka have bad record against Pakistan at home..

Posted by Alexk400 on (May 31, 2012, 15:08 GMT)

Srilanka has same problem as DD. Top Heavy.

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 14:46 GMT)

OH GOD!!! lest it should rain...!!!! :-o

Posted by Perera32 on (May 31, 2012, 14:43 GMT)

@Hafeez_Malik: Buddy don't forget players like Matthews, Chandimal and Perera. You're right about the top 3 players but our home advanage will also help. Im guessing 1-1 in the T20 series.

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 14:41 GMT)

pakistan is gnna smash srilankans......inshallah

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 14:31 GMT)

In t 20 format pakistan is an unpredictable team. they can even even win matches in which they get target of160 or more. they caneven lose matches in which they just have to achive 125-130 runs.If we look at both teams Pakistan is on the upper hand as Malinga did not perform as he does in ipl.

Posted by saadfarrukh1 on (May 31, 2012, 14:08 GMT)

good to see support for Pakistan from India

Posted by smfaisalhussain on (May 31, 2012, 13:48 GMT)

both teams aren't good enough and wont win the upcoming T20 WC!!

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 13:30 GMT)

Mahela opening the batting will be an advantage for SL as he is an attacking opener, but the middle order lacks a strong player. Like @Hafeez_Malik said, the top three wickets are the most dangerous, and then there is hardly anyone else. It will be interesting to see young Chandimal after he didn't play a single T20 in the IPL.

Posted by Indianpunjabi on (May 31, 2012, 12:53 GMT)

SriLanka Will Whitewash pakistan 2-0

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 12:29 GMT)

series can go either way but Pak holds the key i would have picked up Pak without thinking if Razzaq and Imran were in the T20 and one day squad but still a balanced side. 1-1 is my best guess.. lets see..

Posted by truthhh on (May 31, 2012, 12:19 GMT)

goodluck srilanka,hope you guys can win!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (May 31, 2012, 11:31 GMT)

For the sake of better preparations for the WC, pakistan should drop the coming Australian series and instead allow their players to participate in SPL.

Posted by abdullah75 on (May 31, 2012, 11:13 GMT)

if hafeez does do will as aca

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 10:55 GMT)

Play with Lokuarachchi n sachithra and drop tharanga..SL will win definetly

Posted by KingOwl on (May 31, 2012, 10:51 GMT)

T20 is very unpredictable. It is pretty stupid to make predictions. There is no doubt that Pakistan are a good side. But they are weak on the batting side, especially if bouncy tracks are prepared. I think it will be a close series. A lot will depend on the type of wicket.

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 10:13 GMT)

@Hafeez_Malik, your prediction is a little too ambitious. I happen to agree with your that the top 3 and Malinga are Lanka's main weapons and negating them would mean Pak would most likely win. BUT in such a short 20/20 form, negating all 4 of these people will be very hard. So I think it'll be a draw or Lanka take it 2-0. When it comes to Test cricket, it'll be a very hard for Lanka to win it, especially with Ajmal in Pak's side

Posted by applethief on (May 31, 2012, 9:08 GMT)

Playing Sri Laka at home is a vastly different proposition than elsewhere. I think the SL team has been hampered mostly by selection inconsistencies and injuries - otherwise they can take down any side. Their recent test victory in SA and ODI performances in Australia weren't a fluke, despite the ever-changing line-up. I imagine this will be a closer-fought series than the one in the UAE last year, especially under Mahela's leadership.

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 8:55 GMT)

Mahela comes across as a friendly and a good human being. He is one of my favorite SL batsman, along with Jayasuriya and De Silva. Anyway, good luck to both countries. The matches should be competitive.

Posted by UN_Jonty on (May 31, 2012, 8:46 GMT)

Sri Lanka win 2-0.......!

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 8:25 GMT)

team for wt20: 1.Dilshan 2.Jayawardene 3.Chandimal 4.Sangakkara 5.Mathews 6.Thisara Perera 7.Jeevan Mendis 8.Rangana Herath 9.Suraj Randiv 10.Lasith Malinga 11.Nuwan Kulasekara 12.Dhammika Prasad 13.Chanaka Welegedra 14.Sachitra Senanayake 15.Lahiru Thirimanne

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 8:08 GMT)

RE: Hafeez_Malik cant you remember batsmen Chandimal and Thirimanna who performed well in Australia.... Ballers Rndive and best T20 baller Mendis

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 8:08 GMT)

Mallinga is the SL key and Syed Ajmal PK

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 8:04 GMT)

@Hafeez_Malik brave call mate brave call infact its too brave! a team who lost to england in a t20 series hardly is a good t20 team. Only time will tell lets see who win the world cup this time around.

Posted by Kohli--The_Messi_of_Cricket on (May 31, 2012, 8:02 GMT)

I totally agree with what Hafeez_Malik has said. Pakistan are firm favorites.. Lanka's over-reliance on their Fab 4 will hurt them in the coming days. Go Pakistan Go. Support from India. :)

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 7:56 GMT)

@Hafeez_Malik Dont count your cherries too soon.. Pakistan never can have an easy tour...

Posted by Muttee on (May 31, 2012, 7:56 GMT)

Should be a good contest. I think SL will be tough to beat in their conditions. Best of luck to both teams. Really hope Pakistan realise soon enough to give chance to Imran Nazir for the WC as he can really take the game away in as little as 5 overs on the crease.

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 7:47 GMT)

Mahela Our hero... we wish u to up coming series against Pak.

Posted by skepticaloptimist on (May 31, 2012, 7:27 GMT)

@Hafeez_Malik - While - mainly because I'm India - I completely support Pakistan and foresee their 2-0 triumph, mainly because they're the most balances T20 team around, I think you're being naive with your statement about Sri Lanka. The top three are formidable, and you seem to be forgetting Matthews, who is the best all-rounder heading into the series. If one of their top three fire, which is quite likely in a two-match series, their batting suddenly becomes formidable with the likes of Matthews and Parera to come in. Their bowling is pretty balanced, with Malinga, the best bowler in this format, and Kula, Matthews, and Parera also contributing. Their spin is certainly not as good as Pakistan's, but pace bowling, I reckon, is the same. Batting, too, is more or less similar, but Pakistan have more players who can turn the game on its head. All said, those players don't fire nearly as often as Dilshan, Mahela and Sanga. Still feel 2-0 in favor of Pakistan, but good luck to both.

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 7:25 GMT)

Hafeez_Malik ?????????????????????????


srilanka led the 2-match series 2-0

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 7:24 GMT)

hafeez my frnd did u forget about angelo and chandimal....Too much expectations and high self esteem not good for ur health.We ll see tomorrow..

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 7:21 GMT)

Well SL is not easy to beat at Home. Good luck SL Go lions go............- trash Pakistan

Posted by first_slip on (May 31, 2012, 7:04 GMT)

@Hafeez_Malik, Pakistan Doesnt have sigle world class batsmen and when it's come to bowling apart from Ajmal others are average. so both team in same boat,

Posted by Hafeez_Malik on (May 31, 2012, 6:45 GMT)

Take top three wickets (Dilshan, Jaywardene and sangakara) and SL is gone. They have only one decent bowler that is Mallinga and good spiiner, Hearath, who can only contend. What about other 12 overs??? My prediction Pakistan 2-0, unless weather doesn't interween, and that is my only worry on this tour.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
Mahela JayawardeneClose
Mahela Jayawardene Elegant and prolific, Mahela Jayawardene is easily one of the best batsmen around. By a fair margin he is the highest run-getter for Sri Lanka, and on his way to becoming an all-time great. His excellent slip catching, and sharp captaincy - until early in 2009 - made him a big contributor to Sri Lanka's cause. He and Kumar Sangakkara hold the world record for the highest partnership in Tests, 624 for the third wicket, against South Africa in Colombo. Jayawardene is one of cricket's gentlemen: well-mannered, humble, intelligent and articulate.

'Smith's record in India is an aberration'

Modern Masters: Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar discuss Graeme Smith's terrific record in different conditions

    A hole in England's bucket

Jarrod Kimber: Overworked bowlers, poor selection, and plenty of business jargon - England's cup of woe is full

    England don't need a visible coach

Martin Crowe: The team now consists of two halves: a burnt-out one and a fresh one

    'The guy you want to go to war with'

My XI: Martin Crowe on the gritty approach that turned Allan Border into a run-machine

Battling the fear of defeat

Samir Chopra: A fourth-innings chase can be brutally unforgiving; every wicket can lead to acute anxiety

News | Features Last 7 days

Ridiculed Ishant ridicules England

Ishant Sharma has often been the butt of jokes, and sometimes deservedly so. Today, however, the joke was on England

Vijay rediscovers the old Monk

The leave outside off stump has been critical to M Vijay's success since his India comeback last year. Contrary to popular opinion, such patience and self-denial comes naturally to him

England seem to have forgotten about personality

They have to see a glass that is half-full, and play the game as if it is just that, a game; and an opportunity

Ishant's fourth-innings heroics in rare company

In India's win at Lord's, Ishant Sharma took the best bowling figures by an Indian in the fourth innings of a Test outside Asia. Here are five other best bowling efforts by Indians in the fourth innings of Tests outside Asia

Another battle, another defeat on Planet Al

Alastair Cook has got used to feeling of the axe hanging over him. Only his team-mates can save England now

News | Features Last 7 days