Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mahela: We can press for win

Mahela Jayawardene said his side can now utilise the advantage and press for a win in the first Test against India in Ahmedabad.

"Things can happen on fourth and fifth days. They (India) are under pressure and that can create opportunities. The deterioration will be there and we have to see how we can take advantage," Jayawardene said after scoring a classy unbeaten 204 in over eight hours on the third day.

"We have handled the wicket pretty well. If we can build a good lead we can create opportunities. We have to bowl in the right areas especially the spinners and if these things happen we can definitely create more opportunities," he said.
The former skipper was also a relieved man as he brought up his first triple figure Test score in India.

"For me a hundred is a hundred. Given the situation and playing against India in India, that's high up in my effort.

"But thing is I have played only three Tests in India before this. I had a couple of fifties in last tour and I was disappointed. I was determined to get my first hundred here. I am happy, team situation is also very good," he said after guiding Sri Lanka to 591 for 5, a first innings lead of 165.

"We had a very realistic plan of beating India. It is one of our goals and everything was set up. We were disappointed to let India get away after the excellent start we had on the first day. But they did bat well. Rahul in particular and MS (Dhoni)," the 32-year batsman said.

Jayawardene said the attacking century by opener Tillakaratne Dilshan and the efforts of himself, Thilan Samaraweera (70) and Prasanna Jayawardene (84 not out) have set up the game nicely for them.

"Dilshan batted superbly giving us the momentum. He took on the two (Indian) spinners and we kept on going with the same momentum. Thilan and I enjoyed a very good partnership (138 runs for fourth wicket) and Prasanna hung around with me (in adding a record 216 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket)," he said.

On when his team would apply a declaration on Thursday, he said the team management would prefer to set a target and try to achieve the goal.

"We will see how it goes. Kumar and team management will have to decide on that. We set a few goals today and achieved them. We should set same target tomorrow and have to achieve them," he said.

He praised young Prasanna Jayawardene for playing a superb supporting role to help Sri Lanka grind the Indian attack down.

"Prasanna batted well. He has the ability, but it's just applying yourself out there that's important. That's been his problem. He's got lot of talent. But he showed what he's capable of today. It's all about handling different situations and scoring in different conditions and I thought Prasanna did that today," he said.

Asked about his own splendid form in the past few years, Jayawardene said he has learned to build an innings by finding out his strengths and weaknesses.

"With captaincy came bit more responsibility. But after playing for so many years I have realised what my strengths and weaknesses are and how to manage and build the innings.

"Even before that I was doing right things, but making too many mistakes. Once you get to a stage, you realise how to pace your innings and how to attack and how to play on different surfaces," he said.

Jayawardene has no complaint over India's negative tactics of bowling round the wicket to a defensive field, saying the home team were trying to stem the flow of runs.

"They were trying to not to give us not much of a bigger lead today. You can even pick up wickets in that manner. We didn't play too many shots and we played the way we wanted to and waited for the bad balls and once they switched back again we managed to get more runs. Teams use different tactics and you have to adjust accordingly," he said.

On Muttiah Muralitharan's condition after he picked up a stomach bug on Wednesday, Jayawardene said the off-spinner was feeling fine.

"He's fine. He was speaking a lot in the dressing room, which means he's OK," he said.

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