Mahela Jayawardene given perfect sendoff with Sri Lanka win

Former captain Mahela Jayawardene was given a fairytale sendoff in his last test match as Sri Lanka eased to a 105-run victory that completed a 2-0 series sweep over Pakistan on Monday.

Sri Lankan cricketer Mahela Jayawardene waves to the crowd during the fourth day of the second Test match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at The Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) Ground in Colombo on August 17, 2014. Jayawardene, 37, is due to retire and is playing his last Test match on his home ground in the Sri Lankan capital. AFP PHOTO/ Ishara S.KODIKARA
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COLOMBO // An emotional Mahela Jayawardene ended his glittering, 17-year Test career on a high Monday as Sri Lanka won the second and final Test against Pakistan by 105 runs to sweep the series 2-0.

The 37-year-old was hoisted onto his team-mates’ shoulders for a lap of honour after the tourists, who resumed their second innings at 127-7 chasing a target of 271, were shot out for 165 before lunch on the fifth day.

The former Test captain, who had retired from Twenty20 internationals after Sri Lanka’s title-winning campaign in the World T20 in April, will now play only one-day cricket heading into next year’s World Cup.

Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse was among the 4,000 home fans who turned up at Colombo’s Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) to bid goodbye to one of modern cricket’s great batsmen.

“I don’t know what to say, but I promise I won’t cry,” Jayawardene said at the presentation ceremony as firecrackers went off in the stands.

“I love you all. Thank you so much for the support all these years. I still have a little bit left and I promise I’ll give it my all for the World Cup.

“Thanks also to my team-mates. It’s been great to play for Sri Lanka for so many years. I have always worn this cap with pride and passion.”

The elegant right-hander is one of only five batsmen to score more than 11,000 runs in both Test and one-day cricket -- the others being Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and team-mate Kumar Sangakkara.

Jayawardene finished with 11,814 runs in 149 Tests with 34 centuries, but his average dropped from 50.02 to 49.84 after making four and 54 in his final Test at the SSC.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq described Jayawardene as a legend whose absence in the Test arena will be felt by all.

“Not only Sri Lankans, fans all over the world are going to miss him,” Misbah said. “I really wish him best of luck in life. He is really a legend.”

Last man Junaid Khan was unable to bat due to injury as Pakistan lost their final wickets on the last morning.

Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who claimed nine wickets in the first innings, was once against the chief destroyer with five for 57 in the second.

Pakistan wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who started the day on 38, made 55 when he was caught at square-leg off Chanaka Welegedara.

The gutsy Sarfraz was one of the few batting heroes for Pakistan in the series, scoring 55 and 52 in the first Test in Galle and 103 and 55 in the second match.

It was at the SSC that Jayawardene scored a monumental 374 during a world-record partnership of 624 with Sangakkara (287) against a South African attack that included Dale Steyn and Makhya Ntini in 2006.

His 2,921 runs in 27 Tests at the SSC are the most by any batsman at a single ground. He averaged 74.89 at the SSC with 11 centuries and 50 half-centuries.

Jayawardene is stepping away from Tests to let younger players flourish, but he looked capable of continuing for a few more years after making a fluent 165 against Hashim Amla’s South African team at the SSC last month.

He followed that with 59 in the first innings of the first Test against Pakistan in Galle, where he took on the unfamiliar role of an opener in the second knock as Sri Lanka beat fading light and approaching rain to win with 4.4 overs to spare.

Jayawardene was also a shrewd captain while leading Sri Lanka in 38 Tests in two phases, the first from 2006 to 2009 and then again for a year in 2012.

Under his leadership, Sri Lanka won 18 Tests, lost 12 and drew eight. As captain, he averaged 59.11 with the bat with 14 centuries.

One of the sharpest fielders close to the wicket, Jayawardene’s 205 Test catches are second only to Indian Rahul Dravid’s tally of 210 by a fielder other than a wicket-keeper.

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