Mahela: Malinga is peaking at the right time

2015 World Cup

Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardene has heaped praise on fellow senior player Lasith Malinga, after the fast bowler recovered from ankle surgery late last year to make a strong impression at the World Cup.

Sri Lanka take on South Africa in their quarter-final at the SCG on Wednesday, and Jayawardene conceded that a Malinga in good form lifted the bowling attack, while a below par 'Slinga' was bad news for the team's mood.

Jayawardene said: "Lasith's put in a lot of effort over the last three or four weeks to get into rhythm. You have to give him a lot of credit, having had an operation on his ankle.

"He hasn't bowled for four months, and it takes a lot for a guy to come back for a big tournament.

"The biggest thing for him was to mentally be ready to land that foot 100% knowing that there was no pain. Once he did that he's bowling really well.

"I think the Australia game and the England game before that, his finishing has been pretty good, his movement has been good, the variations have come good.

"When that happens the rest of the bowling unit picks themselves up around Lasith. When Lasith's a bit down, everyone else is a bit down as well, so the last few games have been good.

"You don't want to peak too early. You want to play your best cricket at the business end."   

Sri Lanka's batting has been quite excellent so far, with Kumar Sangakkara sitting on four tons in a row, while Lahiru Thirimanne, Tillekaratne Dilshan, and Mahela himself, have all done well.

He added: "The top-order guys have been batting really well, which is a good thing for us. But if they miss out, then obviously the onus is back on me to make sure that we control things. That's how it is.

"In big tournaments and big games, we've been playing some good cricket together. We just need to make sure we hold our nerve."

Of Sangakkara, Jayawardene's best mate, he added that they were both happy to be ending their ODI careers after the World Cup, and Sangakkara had not been tempted to reverse that decision in light of his sterling form.

He concluded: "Apart from probably the first three years in his career, and maybe a year in between, Sanga has been very consistent. He is just enjoying himself.

"We know that we are not going to play cricket anymore. It's not a burden for us – it is about going out and enjoying ourselves.

"I don't think Sanga would have played to get four centuries in a row, but the occasions came about. I think it is due to the attitude and the commitment the guy has."