Mahela Jayawardena has played for Kings XI Punjab, Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Delhi Daredevils in the IPL T20 from 2008 and the former Sri Lankan captain has not been lucky to figure in the championship winning side. He has played 33 matches for the Daredevils and has seen good times (finishing first in the league phase in 2012) and bad times this season. His team which started by losing the first six matches, finished last in the nine-team table.
After his team’s defeat against the Pune Warriors, Jayawardena who will turn 36 on May 27 said: “These things are not planned (finishing last). The last season was fantastic, everything clicked for us before the play-offs. We needed momentum at the start of this season; we played some close games which we did not manage to finish in our favour. I have always said that we have not performed to our ability this season. Our batting was well below par. The bowlers tried, but we could not compete. That’s a very big disappointment. The owners and team management were fantastic and they know we tried hard.”
A right-hander who is known for stylish batting with elegant drives and cuts, Jayawardena said that the IPL has evolved a lot in the last six years. “I have been a journey man. I have played for three franchises. The skills have improved and a big thing I have noticed is the loyalty of the fans as well. The fans have embraced the franchise-based teams. Here at Pune the fans came for every game. It has been the same thing for us at Delhi and Raipur. This sort of ownership has been established now. They are very passionate about their teams,” said Jayawardena.
One among the successful batsmen in international cricket in the last one and half decades with 10,806 runs in Test cricket and 10,291 in one-day internationals, Jayawardena felt that six years of IPL has helped improve international cricket too. “International cricket too has evolved. Everyone has put in lot of effort. Things have improved on the tactical count; there have been lot of innovations too from the batsmen and bowlers.”
He said players have had to face several challenges in T20 especially in IPL like travelling frequently, playing on different surfaces and against teams that have improved quality-wise