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Mahela to resign as captain of Sri Lanka

SRI Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene is stepping down as captain after its tour of Pakistan, the 31-year-old announced yesterday.

Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's most successful test captain, met with national selectors earlier in the day and informed them of his decision to stand down after three years at the helm.

Sri Lanka is preparing for a two-test series in Pakistan, the first test beginning on February 21. It plays a two-day warm-up game against a Patron's XI in Karachi from Tuesday.

"In the best interests of the Sri Lanka team, I have decided to stand down as Sri Lanka captain after this Pakistan tour," Jayawardene said in a statement.

"This is something I have been considering for some time as it has been my long-held belief that my successor should have at least 18 months in the job to imprint his vision on the team for the 2011 World Cup. After much thought, I have concluded that the right time has now come for fresh leadership to takeover."

Jayawardene's departure follows Sri Lanka's 1-4 defeat by India in a recent ODI series.

During the past three months Jayawardene has struggled with the bat in one-day cricket, although he did score a half-century in the recent series to end a 14-match run without a fifty.

However, his batting record as captain has been excellent with a test average of 64.70, including 11 centuries in 26 tests. In one-dayers, his average in 97 games was 34.22 with four hundreds.

Jayawardene's win ratio as test captain was 63 percent, the highest in Sri Lanka's 27-year test history, and for ODIs it was 57 percent. In 2006, the ICC named Jayawardene Test Captain of the Year and in both 2007 and 2008 Sri Lanka won the ICC Spirit of Cricket Award.

Kumar Sangakkara, Jayawardene's deputy during the past few years, is tipped to takeover the captaincy from a one-day series against Zimbabwe in March.


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