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Gracious Jayawardene praises England

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Andrew Strauss & Mahela Jayawardene

Mahela Jayawardene, right, retained a sense of satisfaction after England secured a Test series draw today. "We kept fighting and gave ourselves a chance," said Sri Lanka's captain

Mahela Jayawardene was generous in his praise of England after they secured a 1-1 Test series draw with Sri Lanka courtesy of an eight-wicket win at Colombo.

Beaten by 75 runs in Galle, the tourists showed plenty of character to claim a first Test win of 2012, a result that maintains their position as the world’s leading five-day side.

Kevin Pietersen led the way with the bat, following his spectacular first-innings 151 with an unbeaten 42 as England hunted down a modest target of 94 in quick time.

England’s bowlers also excelled once again, off-spinner Graeme Swann returning match figures of 10-181 and the ever-reliable James Anderson once again leading the seam attack with distinction.

Sri Lanka captain Jayawardene, who collected the man of the series award after scoring 354 runs at 88.5 in the two-match rubber, was far from surprised by England’s resurgence this week.

“I knew they would come strong and they did,” he said. “The way Jimmy Anderson bowled was fantastic and then the way Kevin batted too. Good players will step up and that’s what England have got.”

Jayawardene was satisfied with the efforts of his own team, adding: “We kept fighting and gave ourselves a chance. Going forward we can develop our youngsters, so as long as the commitment levels are there I’m quite happy.”

However, he conceded they paid the price for errors earlier in the match, which saw them muster just 275, despite Jayawardene’s second century of the series, before England replied with 460.

“The first two days we made too many mistakes to get back into the Test match and England proved to be a very strong outfit,” Jayawardene said.

“They got in front and it’s quite difficult to tame a side that has that much quality. Credit to Andrew (Strauss) and his team. I thought they played really good cricket, supported by a huge group of fans.”

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