Jayawardene quits, Sangakkara likely to take over (Round up)

February 11th, 2009 - 9:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Feb 11 (IANS) Mahela Jayawardene Wednesday decided to step down as the captain of Sri Lanka’s cricket team after the upcoming tour of Pakistan, saying that his successor needs at least 18 months to prepare the team for the 2011 World Cup.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) chief-executive Duleep Mendis told IANS that Jayawardene officially informed his desire to quit as captain after the Test series in Pakistan.

“In the best interests of the team, I have decided to stand down as the captain after the Pakistan tour,” Jayawardene said Wednesday.

“This is something I have been considering for some time as it has been my long-held belief that my successor should have at least 18 months in the job to imprint his vision on the team for the 2011 World Cup,” the 31-year old right-hander said in a statement.

According to inside sources, his vice-captain and wicket keeper-batsman, Kumar Sangakkara is likely to be the next captain.

“Sangakkara is the most suitable replacement to lead the team by all means,” an inside source said on condition of anonymity.

“The new captain would have the daunting task of building up a formidable young team as most of the current players would be in their 40s for the next World Cup.”

Sri Lanka, under Jayawardene, lost the recent ODI series 1-4 against India at home, though they had won the three-match series in Pakistan. The natural stroke-maker was out of form and managed to score only one half-century during his last 15 ODI innings.

“After much thought, I have concluded that it is right time for a new leader to takeover. It was not an easy decision to make because being Sri Lanka captain has been the source of enormous pride,” said Jayawardene, who led the lions in 26 Tests and 97 ODIs.

Under his captaincy, Sri Lanka has won 15 Tests, lost seven and drew four with the winning ratio of 62.5 percent. In the 94 One-day internationals, Sri Lanka had won 54 and lost 35 while the rest ended in no-results.

As captain, he averaged 64.70 in Tests with 11 centuries, and 34.22 in ODIs.

The first Test in Pakistan will be played in Karachi from Feb 21-25, while the second and final match will be played in Lahore from March 1-5.

Jayawardene, his deputy Kumar Sangakkara and spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan were not included in the Twenty20 side that lost to India Tuesday night.

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