Experienced Sri Lankan batsman Mahela Jayawardene brushed aside talk on Monday of being under pressure to perform after he failed twice with the bat in the drawn first Test in Abu Dhabi. The 36-year-old scored five in Sri Lanka's first innings and was then out for a first-ball duck, dismissed both times by debutant Pakistan paceman Bilawal Bhatti.
Sri Lanka, who averted defeat with skipper Angelo Mathews hitting a career-best 157 not out in the second innings, will look to Jayawardene to score in the second Test starting in Dubai from Wednesday. (Preview: Pakistan look to spinners for win over Sri Lanka)
But Jayawardene said he didn't feel under any extra pressure. "No extra pressure, because when you play for Sri Lanka there is pressure to do well in every match. When you look at how many matches I've played, there's nothing special about my situation now," said Jayawardene, who had not played a Test since January last year.
"It's difficult to say that the long break had a big effect. I trained hard but in a Test match you can have a great match or a poor one.
"It's difficult to pinpoint why exactly things didn't go right. I got two good balls and I couldn't avoid getting out to them. I am not thinking too much about what's been, but I prepared well for that match and I am preparing for the next one." (Click here for more cricket news)
Jayawardene praised Bhatti. "He's a new bowler so I hadn't played against him before. My teammates had told me that he bowled well in the ODI series as well," said Jayawardene of the preceding series, which Pakistan won 3-2.
"When you face a bowler for the first time there is always a small difference. He bowled in really good areas when I went to bat. That's also a factor."
Jayawardene praised his team's fightback to save the Test after conceding a 179-run lead in the first innings. "I am really happy about that. The way our batsmen played in the second innings was really good, especially Angelo, (Dinesh) Chandimal, Kaushal (Silva) and Prasanna (Jayawardene). We got back into the game and that's what Test cricket is about.
"Different things happen on different days. When we are behind, we have to show a little character and we did that, even turning it into a potentially winning situation. That was a great boost of confidence, particularly for the young players who are getting that experience." (Related: Click here for full Ashes coverage)
With 10,811 runs in 139 Tests, Jayawardene said he did not have any long term plans. "I've said before that I don't have a plan for the long term. I have short-term goals about how I should play and how I can contribute to the team. When you get to this stage in your cricketing career, it's not easy to have long-term targets."