Mahela Jayawardene after reaching his century, on Tuesday
Colombo: Sri Lankas senior-most pro, the 33-year-old Mahela Jayawardene, spoke to the media in general and, then, to The Telegraph exclusively, on Tuesday evening.
The following are excerpts
On doing one better than Sir Don Bradman
(Smiles) Look, Bradman played 10 Tests at the MCG and got nine hundreds! I had to play 23 at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) to score 10... That, for you, is Bradman... Hes a legend and I wouldnt compare... But, yes, its a moment for me to remember and one has to be humble on breaking a record held by Bradman... I love playing at the SSC, its my home ground... Its nice to perform in front of its members and other fans.
Whether hed been conscious of being one hundred away from setting a record
Talk that the SSC should be changed to Mahela Sports Club
Ill be happy as long as the wicket remains great for batting... Id missed two hundreds at the SSC last year, against New Zealand, and was determined not to again fall in the 90s (92 and 96).
Constantly raising the bar...
Just try to push myself... I keep challenging myself. In fact, Ive done so throughout my career (first Sri Lanka appearance in August 1997).
Falling for 174 and not getting a double hundred
Not disappointed... I was too tired and, with the fields set, it wouldve been difficult for me to score quickly (before the declaration)... We knew that 600 would be the mark to reach before looking at declaring, for we needed time to bowl India out... In a team cause, you dont have such regrets.
If the SSC wicket has been different this time
The only difference is that theres more bounce... The wicket is much harder and the ball is coming on much better... Obviously, the first three days are very good for batting. Later, it will probably spin more and, hopefully, well be able to create chances.
Whether such wickets are ideal for Test cricket
What kind of wickets do you want? Where the matches will finish in two-three days? One shouldnt complain and look at each wicket being challenging. Nowadays, its (Test cricket) not boring... Today, over 400 runs were scored... Its very attractive, tactically as well. Also, this was only the second day...
Massive partnerships with Kumar Sangakkara, the captain
We complement each other... Being right and left-handed, we get more opportunities (to score big together) as the bowlers arent able to get into rhythm... Both of us are more attacking now... Early in our careers, we werent so in Test cricket. Its good to have somebody solid like Sanga at the other end, as he puts pressure on different bowlers at different times... We had plans and we executed them.
Targeting Harbhajan Singh
Hes the most experienced and the most dangerous... As hes a match-winner, it was a team decision to try and control him. Bhajji bowled his heart out and did create opportunities... For us, it wasnt about just playing him, but taking runs off him, too... We had to be positive and we were. He needed luck.
Strategy for Day III
Weve got the runs on the board, so well attack... We know India have quality batsmen who can bat for long periods and, so, wont be giving them many opportunities... We attacked this evening and Viru (Virender Sehwag) got away with it... Well now try and frustrate as much as we can. The wicket will still be good, so we will have to be smart... We need to first get 10 wickets and, then, look at the next 10.
Plans for Sehwag...
It wouldnt be much fun if I told you... Hes the dangerman, but there are others with over 10,000 runs under their belt.
The Sri Lanka attack
Look, with the old ball, the fast bowlers (Dilhara Fernando, Dammika Prasad) will be able to reverse quite a bit. Theyve got pace as well... Suraj (Randiv, the debutant) was, I think, nervous today... Hes very dangerous, though, especially if theres bounce... I know that (Ajantha) Mendis, who has made a comeback, is eager to do well... We need to stick to our game plan.
Being named the vice-captain, after having given up the captaincy in early 2009
I didnt seek the post... Its a decision taken by the selectors... This is how things will be till the World Cupů After that, theyll see who will be our next captain and groom him by giving him the vice-captaincy.
Finally, if hed like to dedicate Tuesdays record to somebody
(Grins) Not to anybody in particular, to my well-wishers.