Mahela - We're no chokers
Skipper says Sri Lanka can become first host nation to win title
Last Updated: 17/09/12 2:26pm
Mahela Jayawardene: Feels his side can handle the pressure
Mahela Jayawardene has hit back at critics who have called Sri Lanka chokers for not being able to win a major tournament in recent years.
The host nation are preparing to take on Zimbabwe in the opening match of the World Twenty20 in Hambantota on Tuesday determined to end their 16-year wait for a title.
Sri Lanka have been runners-up in three major competitions since winning the 1996 one-day World Cup.
They lost to Australia and then India in the 2007 and 2011 World Cup finals, and missed out on the World Twenty20 title when they were beaten by Pakistan in the 2009 title match at Lord's.
"A lot of people have asked us, you know we've choked in the finals. I'd rather be in that situation than knocked out in the first round or the second round."
Mahela Jayawardene on major tournaments Quotes of the week
However, the Sri Lanka captain admits he would rather be reaching finals than exiting tournaments in the early stages.
"A lot of people have asked us, you know we've choked in the finals. I'd rather be in that situation than knocked out in the first round or the second round," Jayawardene said.
"That means we are doing something pretty good in these big tournaments, we are handling pressure pretty well and getting to those situations where we can win tournaments."
Jayawardene, who is the top-scorer for Sri Lanka in the shortest form of the game with 981 runs in 37 matches, believes his team have every chance of becoming the first host nation to win the World Twenty20.
"There's always first time, isn't it," said the 35-year-old. "No one has done it, so maybe it's our time to turn it around and make it first."