Mahela Jayawardene (left) played his last Test against Pakistan at the Sinhalese Sporting Club in August earlier this year. It was the last time the fans ever got to see the famed pair of Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakarra © AFP
Mahela Jayawardene (left) played his last Test against Pakistan at the Sinhalese Sporting Club in August earlier this year. It was the last time the fans ever got to see the famed pair of Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakarra © AFP

Sri Lanka have had a wonderful year in all three formats of the game. They have done very well at home and put up a formidable fight overseas as well. The Island nation managed to win their maiden ICC World T20 title earlier this year. Pramod Ananth reviews Sri Lanka’s performance in Tests, One-Day Internationals (ODI) and T20Is.

Sri Lanka started the year with a Test series against Pakistan in United Arab Emirates (UAE) in January. They lost the first Test despite setting Pakistan a target of over 300 runs to win in the four innings. But Sri Lanka bounced back in the second Test and won the match comfortably by nine wickets. The series finished tied at 1-1 with the third Test ending in a draw. Angelo Mathew’s all-round performance won him the player of the series.

Sri Lanka continued their momentum in the next two Test series in Bangladesh and England. As expected, they defeated Bangladesh but surprised many with their series win in England. Sri Lanka notched up 730 runs in their first innings of the first Test against Bangladesh, thanks to a brilliant double ton by Mahela Jayawardene as his side won by an innings and 248 runs.

Sri Lanka just about managed to survive the first Test at Lord’s but managed to win the second at Leeds to win the series 1-0. Mathews scored centuries in both Tests, continuing from where he left off. Having been on a high till the middle of the year, Sri Lanka suffered their first and only series loss at home to South Africa, but redeemed themselves after beating Pakistan 2-0.

Overall, Sri Lanka have won five Tests, lost three and drew three this year. They are already down 1-0 in the ongoing series against New Zealand; they’ll look to draw level in the upcoming Test at Wellington. Overall, Sri Lanka will be happy with their effort this year and will hope that they can better it in 2015.

This year marked the end of an era for Sri Lanka as one of their veteran cricketers, Jayawardene quit from Tests.  In a Test career spanning over 17 years, Jayawardene has played 149 Tests and has scored 11,814 runs at an average of close to 50. He has also scored 34 centuries and 50 half-centuries in the process. Sri Lanka however remain confident that they can produce the results despite of Jayawardene’s retirement. Whether they can back it up with good performances, is yet to be seen.

Sri Lanka had a superb year in ODIs as they won the Asia Cup 2014 in March after they beat Pakistan by five wickets in the final in Dhaka. Sri Lanka backed up this feat with a series win over England in England. They won a closely fought five-match series 3-2.

Sri Lanka also scored their lowest team total in this series as their side was bundled out for just 67. This was followed by some series against South Africa and Pakistan. Sri Lanka suffered a setback after they lost the series against South Africa but managed to win against Pakistan. Sri Lanka were forced into a five-match series against India after the West Indies pulled out of the India tour.

An under-prepared Sri Lankan suffered a whitewash as hosts India thrashed them 5-0. Sri Lanka however came out on top as they toppled an under fire England team, lead by Alastair Cook 5-2 in a seven-match series. This series was the last ODI series that legends Kumar Sangakkara and   Jayawardene would play at home as they have decided to hang up their boots after the ICC World Cup 2015. In fact, the last wicket of the series went to Jayawardene, when England player James Tredwell was stumped by Sangakkara of the bowling of Jayawardene, a perfect end to their excellent partnership.

Sri Lanka have been dominant even in T20Is too. They beat India in the finals of the ICC World T20 2014 in Bangladesh and avenged their loss in the ICC World Cup 2011 three years back.  In their nine T20Is, Sri Lanka won eight of their matches and lost only one. They have put in a good show through the year and will go into the  ICC World T20 2016  as firm favourites.

Sri Lanka have had a great 2014, but can they continue to perform well without stars like Sangakkara and Jayawardene in 2015 is to been seen. Although the transformation is going to be tough, it is certainly won’t be very tough.

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)