COLOMBO, August 18, 2014: Mahela Jayawardene ended his 17-year Test career on a victorious note 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, 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. 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. He was lifted onto the shoulders of his team-mates as the entire squad did a victory lap of the ground. On his return to the pavilion, Jayawardene was hugged warmly by Rajapakse and other dignitaries.
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 looked good to continue 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.