Sri Lanka skipper praises Moody push

KINGSTON, April 25, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene thanked coach Tom Moody for pushing him and the team to their limits after his century steered them into the World Cup final. “The ’96 group changed the course of Sri Lankan cricket completely and those guys cleared the way for us to achieve higher goals.”

Jayawardene’s superbly-paced 115 not out was the cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s imposing score of 289 for five against New Zealand in the first semi-final at Sabina Park.

In reply, after a fine opening spell from Lasith Malinga, who took one wicket for five runs in four overs, the spinners sparked a middle-order collapse.

New Zealand lost five wickets for 11 runs in 23 deliveries, with off-spin star Muttiah Muralitharan taking three on his way to four for 31.

Jayawardene said a combination of the captaincy and the influence of Moody, a member of Australia’s World Cup winning squads in 1987 and 1999, had been key factors in his growing toughness.

“I have become mentally much stronger the last two years,” Jayawardene said after scoring a maiden World Cup hundred in his 23rd tournament appearance.

“The captaincy probably would have helped but Tom defini