Mahela Jayawardene doesn’t believe that Saeed Ajmal and Ajantha Mendis have any mystery left in their spin bowling.
Speaking on the eve of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan World T20 semi-final, Mahela said that they need to do the “little things” right against a “dangerous team” like Pakistan.
The following are excerpts
If they are happy that they will be playing against Pakistan, and not India
Not really... You can’t take it like that. The amount of cricket we play thesedays, things change drastically. When we went into the series against India, we were tried. We had a couple of tough tours and the Indians were fresh and they played well. But if you want to win the World Cup, you have to beat all the good teams.
On Pakistan’s spin attack
We have played each other quite frequently and there have been good contests. We have some quality spinners and we play spin quite well. We need to make sure that we execute certain things properly. It’s going to be an exciting semi-final against a quality opposition. We will also have to see how the wicket plays. For us, it’s all about playing to our strengths. On the field, we need to react and that’s the way to go against Pakistan.
Whether it will be a contest between Saeed Ajmal and Ajantha Mendis
Ajmal and Mendis have been playing for five-six years now and I am not too sure whether there’s any mystery left... A lot of the batsmen have played them. So it’s tough to call them mystery spinners... But they are quality spinners. People have seen videos of them. And it’s a big game for everyone, not just for those two guys. We need to do the little things right and control the things that are under our control.
If handling Sohail Tanvir is an issue
We just need to see how it goes... First he has to make it to the team and then come and bowl as well. We can’t premeditate and say this is how we are going to play each and every bowler… That this is the way we are going to bowl at their batsmen. Whatever the Pakistan playing XI, we will be ready. We believe in our ability... As long as we focus on the little things, that’s fine.
On Thursday’s tie being their first World T20 match at the R. Premadasa Stadium
We have seen how the wickets are by watching the matches on television. We need to look at what kind of wicket we get on Thursday. It looks to be a fresh wicket, one where the first round games were played. Depending on how the wicket behaves, we need to make a few tactical changes.
Lanka’s not-too-good T20 record at the R. Premadasa Stadium
We have played different opponents actually... In some of those T20s, we tried new players and new combinations… Kumar Sangakkara and I didn’t play couple of those games. So it’s hard to read too much into that. We came into this tournament with a squad and we played good cricket… Right now, we don’t have to cast our minds back so long… We need to take the positives out of the last few games and approach the semi-final. Those are the thoughts that will be in the players’ minds.
On their good run in ICC tournaments
We are still two games away from getting to that title. We are extremely proud to be a part of a group that has been consistent throughout the tournament. When you look back, even though we haven’t won, for us to be in those situations is great. That’s why we have been very consistent. Yes, we haven’t won any of those and it’s a bit of a disappointment.
Whether the spirit of cricket was violated when he didn't captain in the last match
Like I said, the management and I felt that we needed to do something to handle certain situations. Different people will have different opinions, but there was no malice on our part. I spoke to Stuart Broad as well before the match and he was fine with that. I can't stop people thinking whether it was in the right spirit or stuff… I haven't done anything wrong to any team, player or individual. It was just a tactical move… Like a bowling change and batting change, we just changed our captain. He is part of our squad, we didn't bring anyone from outside to lead our side. We just made a tactical move under the circumstances.