COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's first cricket series triumph in 15 months was a credit to its ability to handle pressure against Pakistan, said captain Mahela Jayawardene.
Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by two wickets on Monday to wrap up the five-match one-day international series 3-1 with one game abandoned due to rain. The series win was Sri Lanka's first in since beating West Indies at home in February 2011.
Sri Lanka came from behind to win this series, which seemed sure to be Pakistan's in the final game at Premadasa Stadium where the home side was 138-6 and requiring 110 runs to win off 94 deliveries. That's when Angelo Mathews showed composure to lead Sri Lanka over the line.
In the fourth ODI on Saturday, Pakistan was 166-2 and required 78 runs from 75 balls, but collapsed losing seven wickets for 13 runs to concede a 2-1 series lead to Sri Lanka. Man of the series Thisara Perera starred with a hat trick.
“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,” Jayawardene said.
“The way we handled tough situations than Pakistan was better. Our fielding standards were much better as well and I am proud about that.”
In contrast, Pakistan was sloppy in the field in the fifth ODI, dropping two catches, and missing two run outs, plus there were numerous misfields.
“Again there were too many fielding lapses and in my opinion this was the difference. Throughout the series our fielding has hurt us,” Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said.
Jayawardene was pleased to end Sri Lanka's dismal run over a 15-month period in which the team suffered four bilateral ODI series losses, lost in the World Cup final, failed to qualify for the Asia Cup final, and lost the finals of the Australian tri-series. In that period, Sri Lanka also lost four straight test series.
“We had a big challenge against a good side. We worked hard in winning this series,” Jayawardene said.
“As a captain I am very pleased and we need to move forward from what we have learned. This win means a lot for the team and the country. We have played good cricket and there has been a lot of hard work put in and hopefully we will keep improving and be consistent in all forms of the game.”
The first of three tests with Pakistan starts on Friday in Galle.