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By Amit Banerjee
Aug 18, 2014
Mahela Jayawardene described his experience of facing Wasim Akram as one of the most memorable and toughest in his seventeen-year career. In a post-match interview with Australian cricketer-turned-commentator, he was reminiscent of some of the key moments and phases of his illustrious career, which came to a close Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan in the second and final Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club, one of Jayawardene’s favourite grounds.
“I was fortunate to play cricket with various generations of cricketers. Facing Wasim Akram was tough. He had the pace and variety and could outthink batsmen. I was a bunny of Akram early in my career. It was equally challenging against Glenn MacGrath and Warnie [Shane Warne],” recalled Jayawardene. The former Sri Lankan captain was dismissed five times in six Tests by the man known as the ‘Sultan of Swing’ .
The early years of Jayawardene’s playing career was marked by the presence of legendary bowling pairs such as Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis from Pakistan, Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose from West Indies, Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock from South Africa among several others. Jayawardene also acknowledged the contributions of the contemporary bowlers. “Off late, guys like Jimmy Anderson, [Graeme] Swann, Anil Kumble, Daniel Vettori all these guys were fantastic to face. Sometimes you come out good sometimes you don’t. That’s part of cricket,” he was quoted as saying.
Jayawardene had announced his retirement from Test cricket on 14th July before the start of the the Test series against South Africa. His final Test against Pakistan at the SSC, which happens to be his home ground, was a fitting farewell as his team defeated Pakistan by 105 runs and won the series 2-0. The retirement party was made even more memorable with the presence of the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajpaksa, his parents and wife as well as the students and alumni of Nalanda College, his alma mater. He was carried around the ground in a lap of honour on the shoulders of Chanaka Welegedera and Dhammika Prasad and was given several mementos during the post match presentation.
(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, traveling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)
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