The best of Mahela Jayawardene

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Mahela Jayawardene has been a pillar of Sri Lanka cricket for almost two decades, both on and off the field. During his career, the veteran piled up more than 25,000 international runs and guided Sri Lanka to two ODI and T20I World Cup finals, Asia Cup championships and Test wins in England, New Zealand and West Indies amongst many more milestones for Sri Lanka Cricket.

Almost Centuries…

On his 43rd Birthday, this is a celebration of a few of those memories from his legendary career. 

In Tests

275 vs India | 2009 at Ahmedabad

This was one of the Jayawardene duo specials as this innings had Sri Lankan fans stuck to their seats with the hopes of a maiden Test win in India.

Mahela, the senior man of the partnership, with the help of Prasanna, guided Sri Lanka to a mammoth 760, to take a lead of 334 runs ahead of India’s 2nd innings. But Sri Lanka’s bowling wasn’t effective enough to earn that historic win in India.

 

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The Jayawardene pair also renewed the highest partnership for the 6th wicket in Test cricket history adding 352 runs together. This is Mahela Jayawardene’s 2nd highest score in Test cricket.

119 vs England |2006 at Lord’s

Mahela just loved batting at Lord’s. His best knock at the Home of Cricket came when Sri Lanka were summoned to follow-on by Andrew Flintoff with a cushion of 359 runs.

Following his 61 in the first innings (out of a team total of 192), Sri Lanka’s newly elected skipper went on to produce a brilliant, match saving knock in the 3rd innings to keep the series in the balance.

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167 vs New Zealand | 1998 at Galle

Fearless, elegant and risk-free; young Jayawardene was a sight to behold! 

Jayawardene wasted no time exhibiting the skill level and craftiness he possessed and proved he belonged in the international arena as he went on to score 167 In his just 4th Test match, his 1st century of many to come.

On a rank turner at Galle, where no other batsman surpassed 53 from both sides, the 21-year-old kept his cool to seal a victory for Sri Lanka by an innings.

123 vs South Africa | 2006 at P. Sara


Though the spotlight was on his 374 in that series against South Africa in 2006 at home, this innings in the very next match by Jayewardene deserves more credit than it receives.

Chasing 352 in the 4th innings, the Sri Lanka skipper continued his brilliant form with a masterful century to seal a thrilling 1-wicket victory.

This was the first 1-wicket victory for Sri Lanka in Test Cricket (Sri Lanka recorded only one other 1-wicket victory in 2019)

374 vs South Africa | 2006 at SSC

This innings would need no introduction. Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara basically sucked the life out of the Dale Steyn led bowling attack for 2 and half days under the SSC sun.

Mahela Jayawardene recorded the highest individual score in Test cricket by a right-hander and 4th highest overall score in Test cricket.

Kumar Sangakkara and himself also renewed the highest partnership in Test cricket (624 runs) which was previously owned by Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama.

In ODIs

Apart from the obvious choices, Jayawardene’s centuries in the 2007 World Cup semi-final and 2011 World Cup final, here are a handful of brilliant innings out of his illustrious career.

100 vs Afghanistan | 2015 at Dunedin

Out of the 19 ODI centuries Mahela Jayawardene scored, his last century against the World Cup rookie Afghanistan could be the most underrated.

Chasing a tricky 233, Sri Lanka were reduced to 4/51 and were staring at an embarrassing defeat before veteran Jayawardene pulled out an old trick or two to take Sri Lanka to a win.

 

107 vs Africa XI | 2007 at Chennai


Captaining the Asia XI, Mahela Jayawardene yet again produced a captain’s knock with the help MS Dhoni to raise his team from 5/72 to 331/8 against Africa XI.

The pair also broke the highest 6th wicket partnership in ODIs in doing so at that time. (237 runs)

As a result of this legendary partnership, Asia XI completed the 3-0 whitewash against Africa XI under the leadership of Jayawardene.

 

144 vs England | 2011 at Leeds

 The highest score of Mahela Jayawardene’s career was registered against his favourite opposition, England, at the Headingly Cricket ground.  

Jayawardene displayed his adaptability as an opener as he dashed to a fiery century which also took him to the record of most runs scored by a batsman in One Day Internationals without a 150+ score in his career.

 

120 vs England | 1999 at Adelaide


If not for his brilliance at World Cup knockouts, this innings could be the most celebrated ODI innings of Mahela Jayawardene’s career.

This innings marked the making of Jayawardene the ODI cricketer, as the then 22-year-old guided Sri Lanka to a thrilling 1-wicket win in a chase of 303.

This knock and win meant more to the Sri Lanka team as well as Sri Lanka fans as it was the same match where Muttiah Muralitharan was controversially no balled by umpire Ross Emerson.

In T20Is

86 vs Australia | 2011 at Pallekele

 If T20I was thought to be all about power, power and more power, Mahela Jayawardene is one to counter that argument. 

In his own way, without a disruption to his elegance, Jaywardene managed to break the stereotype of a good T20I batsman, with his silky touch.  

The perfect example came at Pallekele against the Lee, Johnson led Australian attack as Jayawardene guided Sri Lanka to 2-0 series victory with a smooth 86.

100 vs Zimbabwe | 2010 at Providence

 

Even though Sri Lanka has made 3 appearances in World T20 finals, they only boast 2 T20I centuries so far. One of them belongs to none other than Mahela Jayawardene.

He was in red-hot form at the 2010 World T20 campaign in West Indies and manufactured the first T20I century for Sri Lanka, thereby becoming the first Sri Lankan to score 100s in all formats of cricket.

98* vs West Indies | 2010 at Bridgetown


Following his blistering century at Providence, Jayawardene came ever so close to becoming the first cricketer to make back to back T20I centuries as he cooked up another heart-stopper for the perfectionists with an unbeaten 98 against the home team.

The innings was built at a rapid pace as it included 9 boundaries and 4 sixes. He also contributed to the highest Sri Lanka partnership in T20Is in that innings with Kumar Sangakkara. (Highest T20I partnership overall at that time)

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