Mahela Jayawardene will seek a winning farewell as captain when Sri Lanka take on Pakistan in the second and final Test starting at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Sunday.
The 31-year-old,who has led Sri Lanka in 27 Tests with 15 wins,will step down as captain after this series to concentrate on his batting. Under him,Sri Lanka suffered seven defeats and drew the remaining five.
Jayawardene hit a brilliant 240 runs and was involved in a world record fourth-wicket stand with Thilan Samaraweera (231) in the drawn first Test in Karachi but was overshadowed by home captain Younus Khan’s epic 313.
Jayawardene doubts his swansong as captain will be a distraction for the team. “No,not really. I think I am just going to enjoy it the way I have enjoyed the last three years. It is going to be quite an honour for me to lead the side and decision-making will not be an issue for me,” said Jayawardene.
Both teams hope they get a more bowler-friendly pitch for the second Test after batsmen dominated in the first match with 1,553 runs scored for the loss of only 18 wickets.
Sri Lanka posted 644-7 declared in their first innings to which Pakistan replied with their highest Test total of 765-6 declared.
The tourists did struggle in the second innings to raise hopes of an unlikely result before finishing the match at 144-5.
Jayawardene said his team’s batting in the second outing was unwarranted. “In the last two hours our batting was bit disappointing,but I think we can still take a lot of positives going into the second match and I am quite happy finishing the first Test with a very good result,” said Jayawardene.
The tourists will have the option of bringing in recently arrived paceman Nuwan Kulasekara who replaced injured Farveez Maharoof. Maharoof had to return home after he was ruled out with an injury.
Pakistan too have the option of selecting rookie paceman Mohammad Talha in place of Sohail Khan,who struggled with fitness on a flat track.
Younis hoped he gets more chance to attack his opponents. “I need independence in selecting the final 11 because the way we attacked them in the end was a good sign and we hope to continue that aggressive approach,” said Younus.
“We had our opportunities against Mahela,” said Younus of three chances from the Sri Lankan captain. “We batted with guts and bowled well in the second innings so if we field well and take chances then we can win.”
Younis disagreed Jayawardene’s farewell could be a distraction for the tourists. “They are a good team so we need to be at our best,irrespective of what they are thinking. We have our game plan and we would like to stick to it.”