Sri Lanka v India, 5th ODI, Colombo February 8, 2009

Jayawardene relieved, but aware of predicament


Mahela Jayawardene: "Today we showed that we had a team doing well but had a bad series. " © AFP
 

Mahela Jayawardene was a very relieved captain at the end of the fifth and final one-day international when his team eventually got the better of India and avoided a rare 5-0 whitewash. Sri Lanka's 68-run victory in the last match stopped India's run of consecutive wins at nine, but Jayawardene was all to aware that his team needed to up their performance.

"We had to get it right in the last game and we managed to do that. I am pleased with the guys, but disappointed with the series," said Jayawardene. "We played to our plan batting first … we always wanted to get a good start. Sanath [Jayasuriya] and [Tillakaratne] Dilshan gave us a really good start and from there onwards we created a platform where we could accelerate.

"It was much easier for the guys to score on the wicket today. It wasn't' turning that much and we managed to get 300, which we knew was always going to be tough. With a long Indian batting line-up we had to take wickets upfront and when they were going for their shots we managed to create opportunities and hold onto the catches and play a really good game."

Summing up the series, Jayawardene said Sri Lanka didn't play to their potential. "Today we showed that we had a team doing well but had a bad series. After every game we lost we had chats about how we could improve and get back into the series. Hats off to everybody, they tried their best. Unfortunately we couldn't get into the series where we made mistakes in some of the matches and were outplayed in the others."

"Credit should go to the Indians the way they handled the third and the fourth ODIs, whereas we had our opportunities in the first two games. In the last game we always knew we had the quality to get together and show what we've got. I am pretty happy for the guys the way we came back today," said Jayawardene.

Jayawardene had lost all four previous tosses in the series, and Sri Lanka had been blanked 4-0, but he didn't feel losing the toss was a massive factor in a poor performance. "The toss might play a crucial part but after the toss you know the realities that you have to chase runs down. So we had to make sure we kept them under a decent score and then chased it down to the best of our ability," he said. "It was tough to bat under lights and the wicket gets slower helping the spinners do get a bit of purchase off it. On hindsight I think we still should have played much better cricket and pushed the Indians a bit more."

The last time India played Sri Lanka in an ODI series, at the end of the 2008 summer, the scores had been much lower than this series. Jayawardene recognised that Sri Lanka's batting had been poor then too, and called on the middle order to be more consistent. He also said Sri Lanka needed to clean up in the other departments.

"We made a lot of mistakes in the series with our fielding, bowling and in batting as well in particular games," he said. "If you are playing top teams we know we have to get it right all the time. That's what good teams do. We have to take whatever the positives from this series and learn not to make the same mistakes again from the negatives and move forward. We got some really good cricket coming up, so we need to keep pushing ourselves to be better cricketers."

Sri Lanka finish the series with a Twenty20 international on Tuesday, the first to be held in the country, and then return to Pakistan for the Test leg of their split tour.