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Cricket: 'I'm just going to enjoy it' - Jayawardene

I am just going to enjoy it - JayawardeneAs one leader leaves, another captain arrives. That will be the current that runs right through Sri Lanka's two-Test series against Pakistan. Every decision a captain makes is anyway scrutinised and analysed, but the ones made by a man who knows his time is up and one by a man who knows his time has come warrant a separate category altogether. If Younis Khan can become half the captain Mahela Jayawardene has mostly been, he will be some captain.

Of course Jayawardene doesn't believe the decision to step down after this series will play any part during the series. "No not really," he said. "I think I'm just going to enjoy it the way I've enjoyed the last three years. These two Test matches are going to be quite an honour for me to lead the side and decision-making will not be an issue for me."

But surely some kind of residue will float around, if not in his head, then everybody else's. The last decisions of a man's life, of a man's reign, are often the most intriguing and revealing. Equally, the first few of another man's are often the most fraught, the most tentative. Given his vice-captaincy and short-lived captaincy stints, Younis is not a brand new captain in essence, but his experience, Jayawardene reckons, will see him through.

"Even though Younis has just taken over, he has done this in the past and at the same time he is a very experienced cricketer," Jayawardene said. "Leading the team I don't think is going to be a problem for him and the guys around him have quite a bit of experience not just playing for Pakistan but playing for counties and various other teams. It's going to be a very good series and we are looking forward to the challenge."

There is enough in the series besides to make you curse the ICC for allowing two-Test series to prosper. Nobody will forget this is Pakistan's first Test since December 2007, a time when the world's economy was still booming, Obama was still hoping, cricket had yet to meet the IPL and Australia were still kings. The world has moved on and Pakistan will hope it hasn't left them by.

"I know they haven't played Test cricket for quite some time so we have to wait and see how their approach is going to be," Jayawardene said. "But for us it's going to be a great challenge coming back to Pakistan and playing a Test series. I've always said Pakistan is a quality team."

Sri Lanka are that themselves, though that wasn't much in evidence during their one-day thumping at the hands of India. The Asia Cup win seems to have heralded a period of ODI insecurity, but five days still gives their batsmen the platform to showcase their skills and their bowlers to work away patiently. And they have enough different faces in their Test squad to ensure the India loss feels more like a bad dream.

"The Indians played better cricket than us it's as simple as that," Jayawardene said. "Collectively we were not up for the challenge and we just have to move on from that and concentrate on what we need to do here.

"Our Test team is quite different to our one-day team and the way we play and approach is quite different so I don't think it's going to make a huge difference. We have fond memories leaving Pakistan last time so hopefully we will continue with that."

And of course there is Ajantha Mendis, with whom laptops, video analysis and batsmen may have caught up for now, but whose success or failure will still have a say in the Tests. India played him without hassles, but arguably Pakistan's top order set it up with a surprisingly convincing performance during the ODI series last month.

"With Ajantha and the ankle injury he had, he is just gradually getting back into things. I honestly believe the Indians played him bit better because we played India so often in the last six months. But it's a good learning process for him. He needs to realise the surprise element might be not there but that he now learns new tricks and read the minds of the player and try and be a smarter bowler. He's 23 years old so will take some time but we just need to give him more opportunities to do that."



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