Mahela Jayawardene wary of India minus MS Dhoni

Mahela Jayawardene said MS Dhoni is a match winner but India still has some really big players Getty Images

By Ashish Shukla

Brisbane: Feb 20, 2012

Though keen to take advantage of India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s absence from the team due to slow over-rate ban, Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene said his side would not take the opposition lightly in the triangular series match at Brisbane on Tuesday.

“Dhoni is in good form and he is a match winner. But they have also got some really big players. We can’t be complacent.

We will focus on the entire Indian team and try and execute a good game plan. I think we didn’t have a good start but we have improved as a team in every game,” said Jayawardene.

“Our guys have been bowling pretty well. They are hitting good areas and adjusting to different surfaces so I feel they will give their best on this wicket as well,” he added.

Jayawardene also said that the Lankans would be looking to capitalise on the fact that India suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Australia last night.

“It’s a great opportunity for us and like I said, our goal is to get into the fianls…there are four games left and rather than waiting for the results, if we can control our destiny (then) that’s what we need to do,” he said on the eve of the one-dayer here.

In the last game against Australia, Jayawardene opted to open the innings and it worked well in favour of Sri Lanka.

“We try to make tactical changes to see what fits for us.

We made a move to make sure we got a good start, which we never had in the first few games. That seems to work but you never know. I will see how it goes,” said Jayawardene.

“We have got good 14-15 players who we can pick depending on what combinations we are playing and against the opponent.

We come up with a game plan and try and execute it so everyone is ready to play and everyone understands that policy.

“I have asked all the batsmen to be flexible, batting at different positions. I think with the two new balls and given the powerplays and all, everyone has to do that. Trying to create a situation where everyone is very comfortable batting at different positions,” he added.

Jayawardene has so far been brilliant as a tactician and seems to be enjoying his second innings as skipper, but he said that he has not yet made long-term plans.

“I have definitely lost a lot of my hair though but I’ll see. I am taking a few months at a time and see how it goes. I have taken the captaincy for 12 months but it all depends on my form, whether I really want to push myself, enjoy myself playing cricket. I haven’t made long-term plans.”

Like Australia and India, Sri Lanka, too have the issue of rotation of players and Jayawardene said that the priority is to win matches and get into the finals.

“You need to manage your players but at the same time need to win matches. Whatever is priority, I think, in modern cricket we need to manage certain players. But I can’t speak for anybody else.

“Right now, we are trying to win matches and get into the finals. If you are in that situation, may be we can rotate players and give them a break but the priority is, when you are playing a tournament you try and win as many matches as you could,” he explained.

Regarding the issue of no wages yet for the Sri Lankan players that continue to swirl behind in the background, Jayawardene said, “If (wages alone) was the case, we probably wouldn’t have toured and played at all the other places as well. Yes, we had some problems but it never interfered with our cricket.

“We never made any issue with our board. We worked together with them and tried to sort out the problems. It’s not just our payments, there are a lot of other things back home as well. They are trying to sort those things out. It never was a factor.

“We played some good cricket, we beat South Africa in South Africa for the first time. So it wasn’t anything to do with that. Our focus has been on cricket and we will continue to do that and try to sort out those problems off the field.”

Jayawardene admitted that he was keeping an eye on the weather.

“Well, I have heard a few stories but like I said, these are things I can’t control so we will just have a good game plan and try and execute that. If the weather intervenes, we will change our game plan accordingly. But before the game starts, we can’t think anything so just go with a clear head and try and execute a good game plan.” (PTI)