Mirpur: Two giants of Sri Lankan and world cricket — Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara — will make their Twenty20 International farewell appearances in the final of the ICC World Twenty20 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium here on Sunday.
Together the two 36-year-olds have played more than 100 T20Is, with Jayawardene to retire after his 55th match for Sri Lanka and Sangakkara on 56. They have scored 2,799 runs between them — Jayawardene with 1,469 and Sangakkara 1,330. The pair’s journey began together on June 15, 2006, when Sri Lanka played England in Southampton and, exactly eight years later, they will leave the format.
Fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who will captain the retiring greats on Sunday, praised Jayawardene and Sangakkara for their approach as well as their skills.
“We all know that they are great cricketers, not just in Sri Lanka, but throughout the world,” he said. “I have played under both of them, and now they are playing under me. I’m very happy to be in this position as they have always helped the younger players.
“We all want to do our best for these two. It’s a special day and we will try and do something special for them.”
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni agreed and added that they will be missed. “Sri Lankans will miss their presence in the dressing room. Both of them, among themselves, have in excess of 650 One Day International games and a lot of Test matches. So they have got a fair amount of experience,” Dhoni said.
“They will definitely be missed, but everything good thing comes to an end, so they [Sri Lanka] will have to get over it and get someone else to fill in the space.”
Jayawardene will walk away as the highest run-getter in T20 World Cups. He arrived here with 858 runs from 25 World Cup matches, with West Indies’ Chris Gayle a distant second on 664.
Windies skipper Darren Sammy said his team may have lost to Sri Lanka in their semi-final because fate wanted to give the pair a great send-off in he final.
“I guess the two gentlemen who have played for Sri Lanka, who have given a lot not only to Sri Lanka cricket but cricket as a whole, I guess [it was meant to be] that they leave on a high,” he said.
“So they have one more game to try and win a World Cup and leave on a high. Probably that’s the reason why God put a hand in this match. I am sure I will have another shot at playing the T20 World Cup and we are looking forward to winning it again in the near future.”