COLOMBO: Former captain Mahela Jayawardene was given a fairytale send-off in his last Test match as Sri Lanka eased to a 105-run victory that completed a 2-0 series sweep over Pakistan on Monday. The victory enabled batting stalwart Jayawardene to end his 149-Test career with a victory on an emotional day for the 37-year-old, who scored 11,814 runs at an average of 49.84. “Thank you so much for all the wishes! Got up and realised it’s my last day. Bit emotional but the journey has been great!” Jayawardene tweeted before play began as he pouched two more catches to finish with a world record Test tally of 205.
“The boys turned up to win these two Tests for Mahela. The amount of work that he has done in the past 17 years is unbelievable,” Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews told reporters. “I just want to thank Mahela personally I am glad that he is there with us for six more months in the ODI (one-day) format until the next world cup. “We won the Test series for him and it was an emotional day for everyone but all good things come to an end,” he added.
After ripping through the Pakistan order the previous evening, Sri Lanka were forced to wait for nearly an hour before capturing the last two wickets with Rangana Herath claiming his 14th victim of the match to dismiss the tourists for 165 in their second innings. Wahab Riaz was the last man out for 17 when he top edged a delivery from Herath to cover that Kaushal Silva held on to despite colliding with Kumar Sangakkara, who was also attempting to catch the ball. Junaid Khan did not bat due to injury. At the fall of the final wicket, all thoughts turned to the departing Jayawardene, who first met with his parents and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse in his VIP suite before returning to the field to be hoisted on the shoulders of his team mates and carried around the ground.
Herath brilliance: Earlier, Chanaka Welegedara dismissed the last front line batsman when Sarfraz Ahmed, having completed his fourth fifty in as many innings, attempted to sweep the paceman from outside off stump and hit the ball straight to Sangakkara at square leg. Sarfraz scored 55 off 89 balls with two fours. Saeed Ajmal was left stranded on three not out as Herath took another five wickets to add to his nine in the first innings for a career best return of 14-184, earning him the man of the match and series awards. “Herath is unbelievable he single-handedly won us the two Tests,” Mathews said. “The way he bowled in the series even the best batsmen in the world would have found it difficult to negotiate him.”
Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq highlighted Herath’s brilliant bowling, completing the series with 23 wickets at an average of 15.13, as the key to Sri Lanka’s dominance. “Credit should be given to Sri Lanka for the way they played but Herath was the difference between the two teams,” Misbah said. “We played him pretty well in the past series in Dubai but this time I could really say that he bowled very well and he was a totally different bowler. “That created a problem for us. In the past, we played him better than this ... it’s not an excuse; instead we are meant to appreciate someone who had been very good against us. “Losing to them isn’t really what you call a humiliation as they played better cricket than us.”
It is all very well to try and tell yourself captaining your country in an ICC Cricket World Cup is ...