Colombo: He is the most talked about player ahead of the World Twenty20 final but for Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene, the explosive Chris Gayle is "just another player in a very good West Indies team".
"We never went after individual players. We have tried to control things the way we can control. He (Gayle) is just another player in a very good West Indies team. We have to have our focus on the entire team," Jayawardene replied instantly when questioned on how he is thinking of tackling the Gayle threat.
For Jayawardene, number crunching is not his calling as he believes that performing on the day is important. "Records and numbers are all there but what's important is how you perform and need to react to situations on the day."
Gayle, who has been aggressively tweeting before every West Indies match had commented, "Sorry Sri Lanka, but we will win the final" after the semi-final win over Australia. The Lankan skipper was certainly not amused. "When somebody says something like that, is the pressure on us or on him?" he countered. "I don't know how to react to that. Probably the pressure is on him when he has said something like that."
Having lost all the previous three finals that he has been a part of, Jayawardene doesn't want to think too far ahead of himself. "It always goes back to that. Going into finals is fantastic and we don't take it as a negative thing," said Jayawardene. "We don't think too far ahead of ourselves. We don't want to go back in history and see how to overcome this. We'll try and back our ability in what we've done in this tournament. Other then that, I don't know how you can approach a final," Jayawardene said.
A gentleman that he is, Jayawardene was all praise for the West Indies team for having made it to the finals. "You've got to admire them (WI), they've got some quality players. Like any other team, they have strengths and weaknesses and they play to that. They've controlled those better, so deservingly the two best teams so far are in the final. We are the two in-form teams and have played some good cricket."
The skipper refused to be drawn into a comparison as to which among the two spin attacks will be more potent. "Both teams have good spinners, the names matter but it's about delivering on the day," Jayawardene stated. "We are quite confident with the bowlers we have got and what they have done so far in the tournament. The surfaces have been pretty similar in the last 10 days or so, and I don't see it being that different."
The skipper did agree that the Caribbeans had a great time with the willow yesterday. "I think they had a ball with the bat last night," said Jayawardene with a smile.
"It just one of those days when everything was hitting the middle of the bat and the Aussies struggled. But it's on how you perform on the day, how you execute a game plan that matters and we need to react to those situations. It's a great challenge to have as a cricketer, especially in a World Cup final."