The Sri Lankan had a nightmare tournament in South Africa and his future as a one-day batsman looked uncertain after he scored 21 runs in seven Cup innings, failing to reach the double-figures even once.
That he resurrected his career and became an integeral part of the team in the coming years was a tribute to his mental toughenss. His biggest test comes when his side clash with a formidable Australia in the 2007 World Cup final here on Saturday.
Jayawardene is trying to do what only one Sri Lankan captain has so far done in the history of the tournament. Arjuna Ranatunga remains the only one who succeeded in stopping Australia when his side won the 1996 title at Lahore.
The task is not easy because many captains have failed to taste success against Ricky Ponting's Aussies, including South African Graeme Smith, New Zealand's Stephen Fleming and England's Michael Vaughan.
But Jayawardene remains optimistic.
"To win the Cup, you have to beat the best. We've been preparing for that day for some time. The '96 guys changed the face of Sri Lankan cricket. They paved the way for us."
It was Ranatunga who played a key role in changing the face of Sri Lankan cricket with his aggressive and intelligent captaincy. He backed and inspired his players to perform big deeds.
Jayawardene may not be as aggressive a captain as Ranatunga, but is second to none when it comes to tactics. He is a shrewd reader of the game and quick to exploit the opposition's weaknesses.
Ranatunga had been leading the team for nearly eight years before he won the World Cup, but middle-order batsman Jayawardene is virtually new to the job as he was named captain only last year.
The captaincy is not a burden for Jayawardene.
The Sri Lankan is enjoying his stint, having churned out one big score after another since taking over from Marvan Atapattu. The latest came when he made a century in his team's semi-final win over New Zealand in Jamaica.
That Jayawardene has the temperament and technique to play a long innings was proved last year when he scored a Sri Lankan record 374 against South Africa in the opening Test at Colombo.
His 624-run stand for the third wicket with Kumar Sangakkara (287) was also a world mark.
Sri Lanka's biggest achievement in recent times is that they have learned to win away from home with their aggressive cricket under Jayawardene and Australian coach Tom Moody.
They blanked England 5-0 in a one-day series before sharing a series in New Zealand.
Jayawardene has proved that Sri Lanka have found the right replacement for prolific middle-order batsman Aravinda de Silva, who quit one-day cricket after the 2003 World Cup.
He now needs to do what Aravinda did in the 1996 Cup final, a century that helped Sri Lanka beat Mark Taylor's Australians by seven wickets. And he is in form, having scored 529 runs in 10 matches of the ongoing tournament.