Hambantota (Sri Lanka), Feb 21: Sri Lanka won their first World Cup match with ease against minnows Canada, but former captain Mahela Jayawardene has warned his team-mates of hard work ahead as their real test of character in the mega-event will begin when they take on Pakistan on February 26 in Colombo.
"We had a few nerves before the game against Canada started, just to get on with the World Cup in front of our own crowd. The first game in a tournament is always important and it's not easy to play a team like Canada. You've got to make sure that you come in prepared," Jayawardene, who starred in Sri Lanka's 210-run win with a 81-ball 100, said.
"It's a good start (to the tournament) and a lot of hard work ahead of us with other teams. Now we look forward to our next match against Pakistan (February 26). Pakistan have got some great individual players and we play them quite often and we know how dangerous they can be, so we have to do our homework right and prepare ourselves and go in with a very positive mindset," Jayawardene added.
Emphasising on the need to prepare evenly-balanced wickets, Jayawardene, who scored Sri Lanka's fastest World Cup century in their match against Canada yesterday, expressed concern that not all the wickets will be as balanced as those in Sri Lanka, which is co-hosting the tournament with India and Bangladesh.
"We need to prepare good wickets which suits us, but not like big turners.
"I saw the wickets in Chennai and Bangalore. I thought they have much more spin than here. These wickets are more fair, a little bit of bounce for fast bowlers (and) movement," said Jayawardene, adding that spin-friendly pitches give an undue advantage to the teams batting first after winning the toss in normal weather conditions, as wickets deteriorate eventually that suit a spin attack in the later stage of a game.
Speaking about the inaugural match yesterday, the 33-year-old said his side had the right attitude going into the game.
"We had a right attitude going into the game. We were very positive with the ball on the field as well, and the most important thing was to keep wickets in hand and then Kumar Sangakkara (92) and myself gave impetus," he said.
Sri Lanka, the 1996 World Cup champions, had a relatively sluggish start with the scoring rate below five runs an over and Jayawardene gave credit to Canada bowlers.
"To be fair on the Canadian side they bowled really well. They bowled in good areas to start off with and (Tillakaratne) Dilshan couldn't get away and neither did Upul (Tharanga). But it was important for us to keep wickets in hand. We had a good partnership between Kumar (Sangakkara) and me. We needed to change that rhythm a bit in the middle overs and we managed to do that and took control of the game," said the vice-captain.
Jayawardene said Malinga's absence against Canada was just a precautionary step to give him more time to recover from a minor injury and he would play against Pakistan.
"Lasith had a bit of a back strain. He played in the West Indies (warm-up) game, so we didn't want to risk him. He was okay while bowling at nets. But given the fact that we have got a couple of crucial games coming up we thought that he should get a break. He'll get into his stride in the next few days and should be okay for the Pakistan game." PTI