Sri Lanka are determined to send former captain Mahela Jayawardene into retirement with a victory in the second and final Test starting on Thursday against a fragile Pakistan and a 2-0 series sweep.
Captain Angelo Mathews said emotions were running high before the match at Jayawardene’s home ground at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) in Colombo.
“It is an emotional moment for everyone,” Mathews said. “We want to win it for him. He has been the pillar of strength for us for so many years. We will miss him a lot.
“The best thing we can do is try and win the game and give him the best farewell that we could possibly give him.”
Jayawardene, 37, already retired from Twenty20 internationals, will quit the longer format after the Test, even though he will continue playing one-dayers until next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
He is one of only five batsmen to score more than 11,000 runs in Tests and one-dayers – joining Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and teammate Kumar Sangakkara.
Sri Lanka won the first Test in Galle on Sunday by seven wickets after beating fading light to reach the target of 99 before heavy rain drenched the ground.
Jayawardene’s farewell Test was originally scheduled to be played at the P Sara Oval in Colombo before officials moved it to the SSC.
Jayawardene’s 2863 runs in 26 Tests at the SSC are the most by any batsman at a single ground, with an average of 77.37 and 11 centuries including 374 against South Africa in 2006.
Last month, against Hashim Amla’s South African team, Jayawardene hit 165 at the SSC.
Mathews hoped his team would not be distracted from its aim of sweeping the series.
“When you walk into a game, you want to win all the time. That’s the attitude we take, regardless of what’s happening around us. We want to keep our focus and play it for Mahela.”
On Monday, the International Cricket Council said star Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal had been reported for a suspect action for a second time.
Ajmal, 36, who has taken 174 wickets in 34 Tests, has been allowed to play on until he is tested at the end of the month.