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Moody transformed us to be competitive - Mahela

CRICKET: Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardena said that he would make every effort to win the up coming one day international series in Abu Dhabi to give their departing coach Tom Moody a proper farewell.

The fifteen member Sri Lankan contingent left the island yesterday and will play three one day internationals against Pakistan on May 18, 20 and 22. This is the first time that Sri Lanka will be competing at this venue and their first major assignment since the International Cricket Council World Cup in the West Indies.

Tom Moody who guided Sri Lanka to the World Cup final last month informed the SLC that due to his family and personal commitments he was unable to continue with the job. The former Australian all rounder is to take up coaching his state the Western Australian team.

Jayawardena emphasised the importance of this short series even though some of the players are still recovering after the World Cup. He said that the team would love to give Tom Moody a proper farewell because he had put a lot of effort and he deserves the best.

He is easily one of the best coaches in the international scene. We made steady progress under his guidance. A lot of young players improved a lot under his leadership.

We should respect his decision because he has his family commitments. We should now look to the future.

Skipper Jayawardena said that the team would certainly miss the services of Tom Moody who has transformed the side into a competitive one since taking over the job in 2005.

It is a tough one considering the fact that we had been with him for nearly two years. You have to accept the decision that he has made and obviously that's something which he had explained. And he was looking at a different angle, the amount of travelling we had and as he spent very little time with his family.

The Sri Lankan captain also said that Moody had put a lot of effort to rebuild the side during the past few months. "I am sure if anybody else would have been in his shoes probably he would have taken the same decision. So you got to respect that and wish him all the very best in his future endeavours added Jayawardena.

He has challenged every individual not just me personally but all fifteen or sixteen players and every time he had challenged us, not to stay at one place and make sure that we improve ourselves from where we are. So whether it may be physically, mentally or technically we had to improve each day and try to add something new to our game.

Skipper Jayawardena also stressed the importance of continuing with the same momentum and keeping the habit of winning on more occasions. "Even though he is not there obviously he will be monitoring our progress and we could always speak to him as he is not far away from us.

That's something we would look forward and try and continue to do the work that we had been doing with him because it has been successful for us".

On the preparations for the tournament, Jayawardena said that they had very little time to get organised as some of the players were still recovering after a gruelling tour of the West Indies. He said the team would plan out a strategy on how to play against Pakistan once they had inspected the wickets and the conditions in Abu Dhabi.

The Sri Lankan captain said that they would certainly miss the services of the three regular players but it was encouraging to see a couple of new faces coming into the scene.

Champion off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, paceman Chaminda Vaas and wicket keeper batsman Kumar Sangakkara all have been released by the SLC to play in the current English County season. They have been replaced by elegant left hander Malinda Warnapura and fast bowler Ishara Amarasinghe.

Stylish middle order batsman Warnapura has been a prolific scorer for the Sri Lanka 'A' team as well as in all domestic tournaments during the past couple of years.

He reached his climax in March this year when he hammered a career best unbeaten double century against the touring Bangladesh 'A' team on his home grounds at Havelock Park.

Warnapura followed up with another unbeaten century in the second one day match as he guided Sri Lanka 'A' to a three nil clean sweep after having won the unofficial test series two nil.

In addition Warnapura had a fantastic tour of India last year where he emerged as the most successful batsman in the Dulip Trophy domestic tournament. He piled up a total of 421 runs including two centuries and two fifties to finish with a superb average of 105.25.

Fast bowler Ishara Amarasinghe too will make his debut after making some significant contributions with the Sri Lanka 'A' team.

He has impressed a lot during the past few months where he has excelled while representing the Sri Lanka 'A' team during their tours to the West Indies and India respectively.

Amarasinghe is one of the brightest prospects and could be considered as one of the fastest bowlers in the local scene today. The former Nalanda College captain has been able to bowl at a pace of nearly 140 kilo metres per hour and is rated in the class of Dilhara Fernando and Lasith Malinga.

The Sri Lanka team: Mahela Jayawardena (captain), Tillekeratne Dilshan (vice captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Dilhara Fernando, Farveez Maharoof, Upul Tharanga, Lasith Malinga, Chamara Silva, Malinga Bandara, Ruchira Perera, Chamara Kapugedera, Kaushal Lokuarachchi, Prasanna Jayawardena, Malinda Warnapura, Ishara Amarasinghe.

Stand byes: Akalanka Ganegama and Jehan Mubarak.

Officials: Michael Tissera (Manager), Tom Moody (Coach), Trevor Penney (Assistant Coach), Tommy Simsek (Physiotherapist), C. J. Clark (Trainer), Nalin De Alwis (Computer Analyst), Lal Thamel (Masseur), Shabir Asgarally (Selector on Tour).

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