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Jayawardene: Cricket has helped Sri Lanka move on from terror attack

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Mahela Jayawardene looking to enjoy final
  • Mahela Jayawardene says Sri Lanka want to win the World Cup for their 'brilliant' fans
  • Jayawardene says cricket has helped the team recover from terror attack in 2009
  • Batsman was one of six players injured when gunman fired at their team bus in Lahore
  • Sri Lanka play India in the Cricket World Cup final in Mumbai on Saturday

(CNN) -- Mahela Jayawardene has told CNN that cricket has helped the World Cup-chasing Sri Lanka team recover from their darkest hour.

As the co-hosts prepare to square off against rivals India in the Cricket World Cup final on Saturday, the batsman said the terror attack unleashed on his team in Pakistan two years ago is never far from their minds.

Jayawardene was one of six Sri Lanka players to be injured when masked gunman fired on the team bus in Lahore. Six police officers and two civilians were killed in the attack.

Though the events of 2009 will never be forgotten, the 33-year-old says the team have moved on as they eye their second World Cup triumph.

Jayawardene told CNN: "Once you go through an episode like Lahore, I think you always do think about it.

"I mean I wish that is something no one has to go through but I think the Sri Lankan team has moved on after that and playing cricket has helped us to do that as well."

The final is to be held in Mumbai which has also been blighted by terror. A co-coordinated shooting and bomb attack in 2008 killed 164 and injured over 300. But Jayawardene says Sri Lanka will be focused firmly on cricket on Saturday.

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He said: "Security is always important and there are experts to handle that so we let them do their job and we accommodate that and we try to focus on the game and what we can control -- that's the only thing we can do."

Even for a cricket-mad region the hype surrounding the final has gone into overdrive, with the co-hosts set to battle it out at the Wankhede Stadium in front of a huge television audience.

Jayawardene says India and Sri Lanka were destined to meet each other. "I don't think anyone scripted it better than this, it's absolutely fantastic," he said.

"I mean you work so hard for quite some time to get to this situation and you know you're just one step away from being World Champions."

Jayawardene and his teammates will have to brave a fierce atmosphere inside the stadium but he says Sri Lanka want to repay their own fans for "brilliant" support throughout the tournament.

"We have a different way of celebrating our cricket with a lot of music, a lot of dancing and a rich culture in that as well, and that goes down to our school cricket as well," he explained.

"When you have a big game, you have these bands playing, lots of music, lots of rhythmic moves where all the cricketers, even on the field, we feel that rhythm, so we had that in Colombo for the quarterfinals, the semifinals, the entire group stage, all the stadiums were fully packed for each of our games, so the Sri Lankan fans have done their bit -- it's up to us now."

The Sri Lankan fans have done their bit -- it's up to us now
--Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka

As one of Sri Lanka's experienced players Jayawardene says it is vital he and the other veterans of the team help to ease any nerves the younger stars have been feeling since the semifinal success over New Zealand.

"We wanted them to enjoy the moment as well because these kinds of moments don't come our way very often but at the same time, especially playing in India, there will be a lot of distractions, a lot of people want to know how you're doing and at the same time, there's a lot of things happening in India.

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"Definitely, I think once you play in a final you know how to absorb that pressure and how to try to control things better. There are already about five or six guys who have already done that at the highest stage so hopefully the nerves will be calmer."