Debutantes Kochi Tuskers Kerela roared back into the Indian Premier League with an upset victory over Mumbai Indians and skipper Mahela Jayawardena hoped the rival teams will take them more seriously now.
The Kochi tuskers chased down an imposing 182-2, set by Mumbai Indians, to open their account in the tournament on Friday and Jayawardena said it was a big win against the IPL 3 runners-up team.
"It was a good win. We were pretty close in the last two games. It is good to finish the game off and it is a big win against Mumbai Indians," the Sri Lankan told reporters after his team notched up their maiden eight-wicket victory here. "It (win) means a lot. All the guys are working really hard. We had an extra session at the nets after the loss against Pune, we showed a lot of characters even in the games we had lost.
"The character that the guys have shown is brilliant. We have to keep fighting till the last. I think the rival teams will take us a little more seriously now following this victory. It gives us confidence as well," he added. Jayawardena said it was important to see off his Sri Lankan teammate Lasith Malinga who has been in rocking form in the Indian Premier League.
"We knew we had the talent, we had an extra batsman today. The wicket was wet, they had a few dangerous bowler, we had to negotiate them. The start against Malinga was crucial. They are really a very good team but we were better today," he said.
Asked about his dismissal by Malinga, Jayawardena said, "I knew what was coming. I knew how to play it but I missed it. It was a crucial moment of the match."
Asked if the negative reports about the Kochi outfit in the run-up to the IPL affect them, Jayawardena said, "I don't try to control things which I can't control, my only focus was to control the team."
On a lighter vein when asked about the bright colours of their jersey, Jayawardena said the team chose this colour as it stands out.
"I like the colour, it stands out. It brings out the best in you. We didn't have many options as most of the teams had chosen their colour, we went for the brightest. It suits Murali (Muttiah Muralitharan) and a lot of other guys in the team," he said.
Meanwhile, Ravindra Jadeja, who finished off the game with a four and two sixes, said it was the confidence showed by his coach and captain that got reflected in his game.
"The captain and coach had shown confidence on me going by the performance in the previous matches. I wanted to hit straight shots and play according to the merit of the ball. I didn't want to play silly shot," the allrounder said.
"My only thought was to play according to my strength. They have a good bowling attack, Mahela and Brendon gave a good start, we batted well," he added.
Jadeja could not play in the Indian Premier League last year following a one-year ban by the IPL governing council and the allrounder said it was a missed opportunity but hoped to prove his worth this year.
"Missed an opportunity what I can do last year, whatever has happened has happened, I hope to do well this time around," he said.
"I worked on my batting a lot and bowling as well when I was not playing. I tried to improve my skills."