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Hard work and dedication brought us success - Mahela

INTERVIEWS: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawerdena attributed his team's success in the two-Test series against South Africa to be a result of hard work and dedication that was coupled with their talents.

Paying tribute to his team's superb team work and commitment, Jayawardena said the results are obvious when one works hard towards a goal. "It's obvious. When you work hard, you are bound to enjoy good results. That's what we have achieved today," the 29-year-old Lankan skipper said.

However, Jayawardena admitted that he was nervous when Sri Lankan tail was exposed after the lunch break on the final day. "I must confess. Obviously I was a bit nervous after all the hard work that was done in the morning session, especially after Murali got out. It was a tense situation, with nail-biting. But all of us knew what role they had to play and the boys just rose to the occasion," he admitted.

Sri Lanka captain Jayawardena said it would take some time for him to recover after those anxious moments in an action-packed final day's play. "It's one of the most exciting Tests I've played. It showed how interesting Test cricket could be," the Test cricket's fourth highest scorer explained.

A veteran of 83 Tests who has aggregated over 6,000 runs, Jayawardena said that he was relieved when Sri Lanka survived South Africa's dramatic fight back to see last man Lasith Malinga hitting the winning run.

Jayawardena said the aggressive innings of 73 by veteran Sanath Jayasuriya gave the ideal initiative for them to start their highest successive run chase to win a Test match. "When we were set a target of 352 runs to win, the batsmen were told to play their normal game.

"If we had played for our survival for five sessions, we would not have lasted even for three sessions. Sanath (Jayasuriya) was given the licence to play his normal game and played his normal game," he added.

Jayawardena said both Farveez Maharoof and Malinga showed character and determination to survive the final anxious moments. "They hung in there to get us to victory, that is what matters." he said.

The Lankan skipper said he cautioned his team mates before the second Test and warned them of a possible backlash by the visiting team. "I told the boys that South Africa would come back hard at us. They proved us right, though we faced the challenge well and stood up to the task. We deserved to win both matches," Jayawardena said.

He paid a special tribute to his champion bowler Muttiah Muralitharan who ended with a rich haul of 22 wickets in back to back ten wicket match figures in the two-Test series.

"As announced at the awards presentation, bowlers have to capture 20 wickets to win a Test match. Murali produced his champion stuff and proved why he is regarded by many as the best bowler in contemporary cricket. We were not surprised when he was named the man of the series. No one deserved it more," Jayawardena concluded.

Prince happy with SA fight back

His South African counterpart - Ashwell Prince, said he is happy with the way his team bounced back by the end of the Test series. "I am proud we fought till the end to give an exciting finish," he said.

Prince, the first black cricketer to lead South Africa, had plenty of reasons to fee so, especially after that innings and 153-run thrashing the tourists got in the first Test at SSC grounds the previous week.

"Except in the first innings of the first Test (where they were bowled out for 169 runs), we have matched the opposition in both batting and bowling. We never gave up as we knew that it would be worth fighting after we had Jayawardena's wicket," he added.

He admitted that his team felt the absence of their experienced duo - regular captain Graeme Smith and star all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who missed the Test series due to injuries. They were also paralysed after losing key paceman Makhaya Ntini for the final day's play due to a hamstring injury.

"Makhaya (Nitini) always makes a difference when it comes to our bowling. It was a big blow to miss his services at a time we needed him most," said Prince.

However, he said that South Africa would have painted a different picture if they had taken the maximum use of the chances that came their way. "If we had taken those catches, the result of this Test would have gone in our favour," he said.

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