Sri Lanka in Zimbabwe 2008-09 December 2, 2008

Batting slump not down to overconfidence - Jayawardene

Cricinfo staff

Mahela Jayawardene managed just 19 runs in four innings at 4.75 inn the five-match ODI series in Zimbabwe © AFP

Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka captain, has denied that overconfidence stemming from playing weak opponents resulted in his disappointing form during the one-day series against Zimbabwe.

Though Sri Lanka swept the series 5-0, Jayawardene scored 19 runs in four innings- his worst performance in a bilateral five-match ODI series- at 4.75, with a highest of 15 in the first ODI in Harare, and ducks in the last two games. He even experimented with opening the batting in the last match, but failed to score off 12 balls.

"As a top-order batsman there is always pressure and expectation on me to perform but, like any cricketer, one goes through a lean spell, when you don't find your rhythm and as a result can't spend time in the middle," he was quoted as saying on the ECB website. "But the most important thing is you realise where you went wrong and try to rectify that as quickly as possible. I have played enough cricket to realise that."

In the previous ODI series, a five-match encounter at home against India, Jayawardene finished as the highest run-scorer for Sri Lanka with 185 runs at 46.25. He was second to Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the overall standings for the series, which the hosts lost 2-3.

"I have never had overconfidence in my life. In 11 years of international cricket I've never walked into a game with overconfidence," he said. "I've known that I have to work very hard for my runs and that is what has worked for me.

"For five games [in Zimbabwe] the highest total was 170, the conditions here were very tough and we knew we had to work very hard to get runs. So it wasn't overconfidence, just that maybe the options that I took, preparation and shot selection, were the wrong ones and I will need to work on that."

Though the result gave the impression of a lop-sided contest, Zimbabwe did manage to run Sri Lanka close in the last three ODIs. Jayawardene said though his team had reached their goal of winning the one-day series, Zimbabwe deserved to be given more respect.

"We achieved it but it was not the most convincing way of doing it. You need to consider the conditions we played in and also that Zimbabwe rose to the occasion, especially in the last two or three games. They [Zimbabwe] performed really well, especially with the ball. At the end of the day we were put under pressure, but winning 5-0 is always good.

"What you have to realise is that Zimbabwe is a good team, they've got talent but they haven't been consistent. We knew that as well and so we were prepared when we came here. We never said it would be a walk in the park."

Sri Lanka chose a young side for the tour and were without Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas, and Jayawardene was pleased with the way the squad had responded strongly after being put under pressure. "We expected a tough challenge and it was a very good experience for us, especially a young team with only three senior players who had over 100 caps. So it was a good experience that we will take to the next World Cup."

The next assignment for Sri Lanka is an away series later this month in Bangladesh, where they will play two Tests followed by a tri-nations ODI series also involving Zimbabwe.