Colombo, Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene stepped down as Sri Lanka’s Twenty20 captain after losing the World Twenty20 final against West Indies by 36 runs on Sunday.
“I think we need a young leader,” Jayawardene said. “It’s a great opportunity for somebody to start (captaining) in the T20 format.”
Jayawardene said he had informed the selector about his decision before the tournament began last month and they were quite happy with the choice he had made.
However, Jayawardene said he would continue to lead the side in test matches and one-day internationals until the tour of Australia later this year, and if the new Twenty20 captain wanted him to compete as a player in that format he would continue.
“I haven’t stepped down from the other formats (test matches and ODIs), obviously I took over until December. … I will assess what I want to do after that.”
He led Sri Lanka in 19 Twenty20s, winning 12 and losing 6 with one tied match.
Sri Lanka was well placed to win a first major title in 16 years up until the 10th over as West Indies struggled at 32-2.
But Marlon Samuels smashed six sixes and three fours in his blistering knock of 78 off 56 balls to guide the West Indies to a competitive 137-6.
Jayawardene top scored with 33 in the unsuccessful run-chase to the much disappointment of 35,000 home fans at R Premadasa Stadium.
“It hurts a lot because you want to do something special, not just personally but for the public as well,” Jayawardene said. “We’ve been playing some really good cricket, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to cross that (final) hurdle.”
Sri Lanka lost just one game in the tournament before Sunday’s final — a rain-shortened seven-over-a-side group match against South Africa at Hambantota.
Jayawardene’s team was trying to become the first host nation to win the tournament, and looked to be on their way to an elusive title as they defeated defending champion England in Super Eights, won one-over eliminator against New Zealand and had an easy nine-wicket win over the West Indies.
Even against a dangerous Pakistan, Sri Lanka’s bowling attack looked far superior as they won the semifinal by 16 runs.
But when it really mattered, Jayawardene’s reliable pace bowler Lasith Malinga came under the hammer of Samuels in the final.
Malinga gave away precious 54 runs off his four overs with Samuels hitting the sling-arm fast bowler for five towering sixes.
“We did not bowl particularly well in that last six, seven overs,” Jayawardene said. “We never looked having any momentum chasing down that run rate as well, credit to them, they played good cricket in the big final which we did not.”
Since that famous victory in the 1996 World Cup final, Sri Lanka just once shared the Champions Trophy with India in 2002. They came close to winning the 50-over World Cup, but twice they stumbled in the final — in 2007 and in 2011.
Pakistan also made sure a major trophy eluded Jayawardene when it beat Sri Lanka in the 2009 World Twenty20 final at Lord’s.
“Every defeat has been different how we approached,” a dejected looking Jayawardene said. “Couple of the finals obviously we did not start well …. and kept chasing the game.”
Even on Sunday night, while chasing a trickier target on slow wicket, Sri Lanka lost its experienced opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan in the second over.
Kumar Sangakkara and Jayawardene tried to rebuild the innings, but their cautious approach kept the run-rate increasing which put the pressure on the home team.
“We wanted to attack obviously,” Jayawardene said. “The first six overs were crucial for us … but Dili got out off the first ball of the second over, that kept us back.
“They bowled very well, they took the pace of the ball…we never had momentum going in the chase, we lost wickets regularly so it was tough.”