Mahela Jayawardene: World Cricket's Batsman of the Month, January 2014

Chris Teale@@chris_tealeFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2014

Sri Lankan cricket player Mahela Jayawardene acknowledges the crowd after scoring a double century on the third day of the first test cricket match against Bangladesh in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)
A.M.Ahad/Associated Press

Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene has made a superb start to 2014, showing that he has plenty of energy and ability in international cricket despite his advancing years.

The 36-year-old scored 430 runs in January to open the year in great form, already scoring two centuries including the seventh double century of his career.

It was not an easy start for Jayawardene in Sri Lanka’s first Test of 2014, as he was dismissed cheaply twice in the drawn match, but he recovered in the second game in Dubai.

His 129 helped the tourists take a victory in that game as they took a commanding first-innings lead as Pakistan failed to take advantage of the familiar conditions.

In the following game, Jayawardene passed 40 twice but that was not enough for Sri Lanka as they fell to defeat after a stunning chase of 302 in just 57.3 overs by Pakistan.

From their series in the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka immediately moved onto Bangladesh for the start of their Test series, and Jayawardene immediately made an impact with 203 not out.

His innings enabled the Sri Lankans to take another win by an innings and 248 runs, and shows that Jayawardene is still a force to be reckoned with on the international stage.

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A batting average of 86 for the month of January is a superb return for the former Sri Lanka captain, who will enter February in good form ahead of what promises to be a busy period.

December Performance Summary:

RunsOpponentMatch TypeVenueMatch Dates
5, 0PakistanTestAbu DhabiDec. 31-Jan. 4
129PakistanTestDubaiJan. 8-12
47, 46PakistanTestSharjahJan. 16-20
203*BangladeshTestDhakaJan. 27-30

Standout Performance:

Jayawardene’s most important performance of January was not his 203 not out against Bangladesh in Dhaka, but his 129 against Pakistan in Dubai in the early days of 2014.

Sri Lanka had bundled the hosts out for 165 in Dubai, with only Khurram Manzoor managing to pass 50 in the face of some superb bowling by the tourists.

In response, Sri Lanka were struggling slightly at 88-3 when Jayawardene arrived at the crease, having lost Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara and Dinesh Chandimal early on.

With support from opener Kaushal Silva, who made 95, and captain Angelo Mathews with 42, Jayawardene went serenely to 129 before being dismissed with the score on 341.

The tourists were bowled out soon afterward for 388, handing them a substantial first-innings lead of 223 as Pakistan returned to the crease.

In response, the home side could only manage 359 all out, meaning the Sri Lankans needed just 137 to win the game and take the lead in the series, which they managed for the loss of just one wicket.

Jayawardene’s 129 was the highest score in the game and was absolutely critical for Sri Lanka to earn a win away from home.

Outlook for February:

OpponentMatch TypeVenueMatch Dates
BangladeshTestChittagongFeb. 4-8
BangladeshT20ChittagongFeb. 12
BangladeshT20ChittagongFeb. 14
BangladeshODIMirpurFeb. 17
BangladeshODIMirpurFeb. 20
BangladeshODIMirpurFeb. 22
Pakistan (Asia Cup)ODIFatullahFeb. 25
India (Asia CupODIFatullahFeb. 28

Sri Lanka’s tour of Bangladesh continues in February with their final Test before two Twenty20 internationals and three ODIs.

Following this short tour, the Sri Lankans stay in Bangladesh for the Asia Cup, an ODI tournament that also features Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

With just one match against each team and the top two in the league table reaching the final, every team will want to hit the ground running, and Jayawardene will be crucial for Sri Lanka’s challenge.

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