Mahela hails team spirit
Mahela Jayawardene was full of praise for the character of his Sri Lanka side after they fought back to beat England in Kandy.
Last Updated: 05/12/07 2:32pm
Mahela Jayawardene was full of praise for the character of his Sri Lanka side after they fought back to claim victory in the opening Test of the three-match series with England.
The Sri Lanka skipper was buoyed not only that his team had overturned a 93-run first innings deficit, but also by the fact they had put a heavy series defeat in Australia behind them to return to winning ways.
"After the two losses to Australia it was a great comeback," he told Sky Sports. "Being 40-5 after one and a half hours play, for us to come back and win this Test match is a great achievement.
"It was a very good lead and we knew we really had to dig deep and show a lot of character to come back.
"I thought Sanga (Kumar Sangakkara) batted brilliantly and we just had to bat around him (in the second innings).
"To get that kind of lead on this wicket we knew he (Muttiah Muralitharan) was going to be a handful, but the fast bowlers came to the party quite early and Murali turned in quite late, but at the end of the day to get the wickets we're quite happy with the effort."
Jayawardene went on to commend Ian Bell and Matt Prior who put on a century-stand for the seventh wicket that, at one stage, looked like saving England.
"Murali's bowled pretty well, but I thought Belly and Matt batted really well and in that period we knew it was going to be tough, a tough ask," he continued.
"The way those two were batting it was very difficult and as the ball got older it was harder for us to take anything out of the wicket, so we had to be very patient until we got the second new ball and that second new ball did the trick for us.
"We had to remain patient and wait for that one chance and once Murali came to the party it was all over."
Praise for Jayasuriya
Jayawardene also reserved special praise for Sanath Jayasuriya who, having announced during the match that it would be his last, headed for Test retirement with a victory to celebrate.
"We're going to miss him, but he went on his own terms and you could see he was happy," he said of the 38-year-old.
"To leave a legacy like that is brilliant and I wish him all the best, but we're still going to see him in one-day cricket so he's not going to go away that far.
"For a lot of us he has been a role-model and when I came into the side he was a senior player who guided most of us youngsters through the system, so a lot of credit to him and we wish him all the best."
Kumar Sangakkara was named man-of-the-match after his crucial knocks of 92 and 152 and, worryingly for England, the elegant left-hander insisted there was still room for further improvement in his game.
"I haven't played any better up to now, but I hope I can get better," he stated.
"Cricket is the kind of game that you can learn something every game you play, or every time you practice so I'm just going to go back and try and make sure I do the same things I do even better."