India v Sri Lanka, tri-series final, Port-of-Spain July 11, 2013

'Jayawardene's a living legend' - Mathews

ESPNcricinfo staff

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has paid tribute to Mahela Jayawardene, who is set to make his 400th ODI appearance, against India in the tri-series final. Jayawardene will be only the second Sri Lankan player, after Sanath Jayasuriya, to achieve this milestone, and the third overall.

"I am a great fan of Jayawardene. He's one of the best Sri Lanka has ever produced," Mathews said. "The amount of fight he shows in the middle; even when he plays a warm-up game he wants to win. He carries that attitude into the game. He wants to be in all the time, and he gets the others going as well. It's unbelievable to have him in the team.

"He's a living legend, and [has] been part of the Sri Lankan team for more than a decade and a half. He's been a great servant for Sri Lanka. He's one of our main batsmen [and has] experience in these conditions. I'm really happy we have him in the team. We want him in the team for as long as possible."

Mathews was also not too dismayed after losing to India just a couple of days before the final. "We are not worried about the last result, but we need to flush that out of our system as soon as possible. When we came into the tournament, we wanted to take it one game at a time and not look too far ahead. We were not thinking of [reaching] the final, we just wanted to play our brand of cricket and do our best.

"We are happy with the way we responded, and we would have almost played a four-day game if it had rained out [day before.] The guys were a bit physically and mentally drained. The credit should go to the boys [with] the way they handled the pressure."

Regarding facing India's batting line-up, Mathews said the team felt the loss of Nuwan Kulasekara, who was ruled out of the final after picking up a hand injury. "On this wicket, Kulasekara would have been unplayable. Looking at the Indian batting order, their top seven are all equally good. We can't plan for just the first three, we need to plan for all of them. On their day, they can take the game apart, so we need to be cautious."

India captain Virat Kohli was pleased with how India have turned the corner after falling to the bottom of the pack early in the tournament. "I think it's a very good effort for the team to come back from that (being last placed), to win both games with bonus points and ending on top of the table," Kohli said.

When asked how the wicket would play out in Port-of-Spain, Kohli said: "It's the sort of wicket you play in phases. Initially the ball does quite a bit when it's new and hard, and the seam is upright. You have to analyse your game plans while you're out in the middle."

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