Cruising to a double whitewash
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said that it was difficult to judge how much Bangladesh pushed the hosts because of the quality of cricket his team played in both the Test and one-day international series. Jayawardene's men routed Bangladesh with comprehensive 3-0 victories in both the Test and one-day series, not giving the opposition any chance to make a comeback.
"They tested us on a few occasions in the Test matches as well as in the ODIs, but we showed a lot of quality and a lot of character to come back from different situations and we challenged ourselves to be different. We could have taken things easily but we didn't. We wanted to play very positively even in the Test matches and try to get it done with as quickly as possible. In that manner it is very difficult to say whether Bangladesh really pushed us," he said.
"The way Bangladesh plays, they come hard at you for a while and then they give up. You just need to hang in there for that period and fight it off. Once we get that advantage we just move forward. That has been the pattern throughout the series. Our game plan was to not let them have early success. That was the trend even today. We never took the foot off the pedal. We needed to win the series 3-0, that's the goal we set ourselves. The way we finished it off showed we played good cricket."
Jayawardene was all praise for Man-of-the-Match Jehan Mubarak who was the top scorer in the match with an 83-ball 72. "It's brilliant to see the way Jehan batted today. We opened roles for a lot of guys and Jehan put his hand up and said that he is ready to take responsibility, which is excellent. Today's innings showed that we can fit him in at any position in the batting line-up. We started off with him at seven. Today we pushed him at five just to give him more batting time in the middle," Jayawardene said.
Mubarak who has been in and out of the team due to indifferent form said: "There has always been talk that I have not been playing to my full potential and making use of the opportunities I've got. In that context it is definitely satisfying to go out there and win a match for your country in slightly difficult circumstances.
"It gives me a lot of confidence and a feeling that I belong in this team and that I am a part of the team. I feel that my game now is a bit more complete than what it was a year ago. There's a lot of room for improvement. Hopefully I can build on it and cement my place in the side."
Mohammad Ashraful, the Bangladesh captain, felt they had missed a great opportunity to beat Sri Lanka who were without the service of Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas. "Both in the first match and today we had a chance of winning, but our batting let us down. Although we missed a number of chances today, our bowling was good to restrict Sri Lanka to a total of 196 in 40 overs, but our batting has been the biggest problem. Throughout the series the bowlers have bowled well. The results have not come our way because of the batting. There is room for improvement, we could have done much better."
Asked whether Bangladesh missed the services of former coach Dav Whatmore, Ashraful replied: "Shaun Williams did a very commendable job in the series. If the players don't play well, even Whatmore or any other coach can't do much."
The match was also the farewell for Sri Lanka's interim coach Trevor Penney who will be joining Tom Moody as his assistance in Western Australia."Half way through the match I was worried whether we were going to win. I really wanted to go out with a win. At the end before the last wicket fell I thought this is the last time I will be with the guys. That was quite a sad moment but I've made my decision and I've got to move on with it now," Penney said.
Penney described the Sri Lankan team as "a talented bunch of cricketers" and said that he was very much impressed with the progress they have made over the past two years. "When I first came they weren't batting well but the players have made a lot of improvements, most importantly the middle order batting in one-day cricket. The middle to late-order, that's a real plus for me. The fielding's improved and so many things. I've made a lot of friends, and that's the saddest part," he said.
Sri Lanka will have four weeks off from international cricket and when they begin in September they will have Trevor Bayliss as coach and Paul Farbrace as assistant coach for the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa.