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Andrew Fidel Fernando at the SSC
August 17, 2014
The Sri Lanka team had spoken about keeping emotions in check in Mahela Jayawardene's final match, but they will relish the chance to bid him farewell with a 2-0 series win, Kumar Sangakkara said. Sri Lanka finished day four three wickets away from victory, with Pakistan still 144 runs adrift of their target.
"As a team and a player we knew about Mahela's retirement, but we didn't want to think only about that but to perform as a team," Sangakkara said. "That's what we spoke about from the first day. Because if we were to give him a fitting farewell the best thing we could do is to send him off with a win. We all know about Mahela will be greatly missed by the team in the future. But this is what sports is like. Sportsmen come and go and others will take over."
Sarfraz Ahmed, who made a century in the first innings, remains at the crease, but with the ball taking substantial turn, and misbehaving for the seam bowlers as well, the greatest threat to a Sri Lanka victory comes from the weather, Sangakkara said. Rain is forecast for Monday morning, but it is expected to ease in the afternoon.
"The only thing that can probably bother us is the rain. They're seven down. I'm not sure whether Junaid Khan will bat. It's unfortunate, we heard he's got a concussion. But the game is not over until the last wicket falls. We're going to come back tomorrow and make sure we try and get those wickets as early as we can."
Sangakkara also said Sri Lanka are so well placed in the series because the team had set itself simple goals and maintained high standards throughout both Tests. That had been the change, he said, since the South Africa series, which Sri Lanka lost 1-0, having been defeated in Galle, and failing to take the final two South Africa wickets at SSC.
"South Africa really outplayed us in Galle. Probably it was the first innings that really lost us that game, and the first session of the last day. But we dominated South Africa at the SSC and had we not lost about 20-23 overs because of the rain, we could have won that Test and drawn the series.
"What we really took from that is at no stage in Test cricket you can go away from your basics. It's about getting a very good first innings, being competitive and not being shut out until the first innings is over.
"That's what we did when Pakistan got 450 in Galle. We got 80 runs ahead of them and then again here we managed to get over 300 which was a competitive total on a track like this. Then we managed to keep Pakistan just about there, and here we are in the driving seat. It has taken a very special effort from Rangana in both games to get us here. When we do the basics well, rather than the strategy being too flowery and too abstract, that's when we play our best cricket."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernandoFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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