Kings XI Punjab batsman Mahela Jayawardene today said his side's eight-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in an Indian Premier League match here came at a right time to prove that there was no rift in the team contrary to speculation in a section of media.
"Yes, there was a lot of things written about our side and the only way we could show unity in the team was with the bat and the ball on the field and we did that," said Jayawardene, who knocked off an unbeaten 110 off 59 balls to guide his side to victory, at the post-match press conference.
Jayawardene, who had been struggling in the tournament till today, said his unbeaten century knock was his best in the IPL.
"Definitely, it's the best knock in the IPL. I had couple of half-centuries but when you get a hundred, that too in a winning cause, it's always special. There is no point getting big scores when you end up losing. We fought hard, showed a lot of character today, I am quite happy with it," he said.
Asked about his last-minute inclusion after opener Shaun Marsh pulled a muscle during warm-up, he said, "It's really unfortunate for Marsh to pull a muscle during warm-up. I was asked to play after warm-up and Tom (Moody) told me that they were thinking of me opening the innings. I was quite happy to do that. I thought if I go up there and spend a bit more time, I could get back to rhythm and get a good knock."
"In a situation like that, everyone has to get something out of their hat. We lost a couple of very close games in this tournament. It was crucial for us to get it going. We have made a few mistakes that cost us matches. But we managed to finish the game off so we are quite happy," Jayawardene said after Kings XI's second win in nine matches this season.
On Chris Gayle's 44-ball 88 which set up a big score for KKR, Jayawardene said the approach of different batsmen are never the same.
"I was hitting some big sixes. Chris obviously is something special. You need guys of different calibre to come to the party at different times. Up the order, Sachin (Tendulkar), Jacques (Kallis) and few others have shown that you have good innings in tough situations, while there are some others who approach the wrong way.
"Cricket is something that keeps evolving. You need to keep challenging yourselves as cricketers, that's the most important thing. There are some tracks where 130-140 are defendable. You just need to assess the situation. People are challenging themselves that is the beauty of the game," the former Sri Lankan captain said.
Asked how he went about his innings today, Jayawardene said he kept assessing the situation and play accordingly. "I got into different roles at different times.
Initially, it was crucial for us to get a good start and see through the first six overs. We had quite a few boundaries without taking any risk. It was very important for us to build partnerships.
"After (Kumar) Sangakkara came in, he took the pressure off me completely that helped me to settle down. I just had to bat through. When Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) came, I just had to be there at the other end. I knew that he will hit a few ones from the other end as he was getting back to his form. It's a team effort we just need to enjoy the this moment," Jayawardene said.
Asked whether Kings XI could play freely with nothing to lose, he said, "I don't think we had nothing to lose. We had everything to lose. We were very disappointed with our performance and we take responsibility for that. Everyone had a lot to lose coming into this game and coming into any other game. We play with this kind of attitude everyday and we hate losing matches."