Fielding won us the series – MahelaJune 19, 2012, 9:36 pm
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene believes fielding played a major part in Sri Lanka 3-1 triumph in the five match ODI series against Pakistan. Here Thisara Perera, the Man of the Series, is seen taking a blinder.
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene believes superior fielding and ability to perform under pressure were two key factors that helped his side immensely during the five-match ODI series against Pakistan that ended on Monday. After conceding an early lead to the tourists, Sri Lanka bounced back strongly to win three games to win their first series since beating West Indies in January last year.
Since then Sri Lanka had suffered defeats in four bi-lateral ODI series, failed to qualify for the finals of the Asia Cup and were knocked out in the finals in the Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia. In that period Sri Lanka also suffered four straight Test series losses.
"It wasn’t an easy series and credit goes to the boys for a good show. Something we told them was to try and handle situations out in the middle. We knew we would be put under pressure and I thought throughout the series all the guys showed a lot of composure in handling situations. That probably was the difference in the series and we handled tough situations better than Pakistan. Our fielding standards were also much better and I am proud about that."
It was a relief for many Sri Lankan fans that the finishing touches in three of Sri Lanka’s wins were provided by young players. While Tillekeratne Dilshan set up victory in the second ODI it was Thisara Perera who derailed Pakistan’s run chase with career best figure of six for 44. Then in the fourth ODI after Kumar Sangakkara had smashed 97 runs Perera took a hat-trick and the game away from Pakistan.
On Monday with all hope lost after Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene fell to the leg-spin of Shahid Afridi in successive deliveries, Angelo Mathews showed composure in taking the team over the line. "A lot of people are questioning his role in the team and he justified his place and I don’t know why these questions keep coming up. He has done well with the bat as well as with the ball and he handles pressure much better than anyone else I have seen," Jayawardene said backing his vice-captain.
Prior to the series all the talk in two camps was about the challenges posed by off-spinner Saeed Ajmal to Sri Lankan batsmen, but by towards the end of the series Pakistan were forced to drop him and Jayawardene said that he was surprised not to see the man known as best off-spinner in the world playing the crucial last game game. "Going into a crucial game not seeing a quality bowler like Saeed was surprising. You always expect that he would play the big game. We just had to change our game plan knowing that he was not part of their side."
Jayawardene said that going into the Test series Sri Lanka will have the psychological advantage over Pakistan following the victory in the ODI series. The first of the three Tests gets underway on Friday in Galle. "It is a big psychological advantage and with what they have achieved in the last six months it makes a big difference. Every game is important and Test cricket is a different format and new guys will come in and we need to start fresh."
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