We need to be ruthless: Jayawardene
Hambantota, July 20: Riding high on the success against Pakistan, the Sri Lankan team is hoping to keep the momentum going against India in the five-match ODI series starting July 21. Speaking to the media on the eve of the first game, Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene discussed his team’s composition, their spirit and energy level.
Excerpts from the pre-match press conference:
On whether they had overcome any of the stumbling blocks at the new venue
No, not really. The last two games were Twenty20 games [and] the wickets played quite differently to what we had played before. During the World Cup  the wicket was much more true but it is a good challenge to have. You are not sure how the wind is going to play a part in the whole game and [there are] various other challenges. We need to adapt and make sure we try and control what we can which is how we perform out there.
On whether the wicket was different from the one they had played on against Pakistan
No, it looks really good. It looks similar but the two games against Pakistan were T20s, so we started late and [they took only] three hours. This is going to be a much longer [match]. We just need to make sure we adapt, have a good idea of what a good, competitive score is going to be and execute a game plan on that [basis].
On the Sri Lankan team’s confidence being high after a successful series against Pakistan
I am quite happy with the way we finished off against Pakistan but we are playing a different opponent now. We just need to make sure we [make] all the good work we have been doing in the last 12 months [count]. [We need to] just continue to do that. A lot of the young guys have put their hands up and identified their roles. They are very comfortable with what they are doing. [I’ll] just encourage them to do the same and [urge] the rest of the guys to try and execute the game plans that we come up with [in collaboration with] our coaching staff, against different oppositions. [...].
On what inspired the selection of Chamara Kapugedera
It wasn’t purely on his performances on the ‘A’ tour. He had a very good domestic season last year for NCC in the one-day competition and on that basis we selected him to go to Australia. When a couple of our players were injured, he went for the Asia Cup where he played games and scored some runs, around 60 runs for us, and ever since then he hasn’t [played] a match for us. What we then decided was that he might not get an opportunity to play against Pakistan because Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal were in front of him, so we asked him to go to South Africa and play in the triangular series. Just because he failed in two matches does not mean that our selection policy from Australia has to change. What we have to do is try to be consistent. It’s all up to the individuals to try and perform consistently. If we see a situation where he is not able to do that then yes, we might change our mind [...]. We try to stay consistent with whatever selections we have [made] in the past.
On playing India who come into the series after a break
[...] One way [to look at it] would be that we have had match practice and the guys are in good form. We’ll try and continue that [form]. For the Indians it is a different story. They have to get back into a rhythm and try and execute [plans]. On the other hand, they would probably be much fresher than us [seeing as we have gone] through six months of continuous cricket. Our challenge would be to try and beat them on the field with our energy; if we can do that, we would probably win 25 percent of the battle.
On T Dilshan
[...] Dilshan has been practicing with the boys the last week in Colombo because he missed out on the last bit of the Test series. He brings a lot of energy into the set-up so it is good to have him back.
On whether there would be changes from the side that won the last ODI
No, we are trying to stick to some sort of consistency in the squad. It is pretty much the same but for Rangana Herath coming back in the squad. Isuru Udana is the only other guy we felt should get in. [...]
On the last year
The last year, even though we didn’t have anything to show for it, we still played some good cricket. We weren’t consistent and that’s where probably the difference was. The tour to England [took place] and [the one to] South Africa where we won a Test match for the first time, so we did lot of good things. What we want is to be more ruthless and consistent in finishing games off and handling some tough situations against some quality oppositions. We did that especially in Australia, getting into the finals. We had a good series. The Asia Cup was a bit of a disappointment so we saw the ups and down again but came off strongly against Pakistan and finished a very good six weeks. Hopefully we can continue. [...] It’s all about hard work, applying yourself in the middle, handling tough situations better with a free mind [...] Everyone is responding pretty well; hopefully we can continue to do that.