Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup final, Mirpur March 7, 2014

Mathews backs Jayawardene to come good


Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has said it will be tough to pick a XI for the Asia Cup final against Pakistan, and predicts a hard contest, like in their league game.

"None of the games were easy for us," Mathews said on the eve of the final. "It is going to be a fresh match against Pakistan. We have to play positive cricket. We are not worried about any individuals but the Pakistan team is balanced and strong. They have good batters and bowlers so we have to play the best cricket to win against them.

"Selection is very hard, because the bowlers and batters are performing quite well. It is a good problem to have as a selector or captain. You want the whole team having competition within themselves. We will have a tough time to select the team."

So far seven Sri Lankans have played all four games in the tournament. They are Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thisara Perera, Mathews and, surprisingly, the newcomer Chaturanga de Silva.

Among them, Jayawardene has had an awful run, having scored just 36 runs in four innings, but Perera, Thirimanne, Sangakkara and Mathews have played well. De Silva has only made 72 runs but he has picked up five wickets, bowling at 4.26 runs per over.

Mathews made it clear there was no doubt over Jayawardene's place in the team. "We know the type of player he is," he said. "I believe he is a big-match player. I am very confident that he will come out to take the Pakistan attack apart."

Dinesh Chandimal has also made only 45 runs in three innings but he too is expected to play, although Ashan Priyanjan replaced him against Bangladesh without much success. Sri Lanka have to make a choice between de Silva and Suranga Lakmal, who has taken six wickets at 21.16 and has been economical at 4.88 per over.

Mathews had special praise for his most effective bowler, Lasith Malinga. "He is an exception. He is doing consistently because he is working hard. He wants to get things right when he walks into the game.

"He is working on his fitness, fielding and batting. He is our premier bowler for so many years. We want him to continue to do the same thing."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • raj on March 8, 2014, 15:36 GMT

    Jayawardane, once again, showed that he is a BIG MATCH PLAYER. Both Sanga and Jayawardane are great batsmen but Jaya is better in big match situations. Only modern batsmen better in big matches in the modern era were Tendulkar (he was the best of all) and Ponting. I would like to add Lara to that list but Lara did not play in too many finals etc.

  • Android on March 8, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    mahela is the good choice for big maches like finals...... he is a class player... he can score runas any track... but now he need a small support from his partner batsman for become form. if he give support he will b the man of the match

  • Irfan on March 8, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    Chandimal should carry water, selection problem solved !

  • Priyantha on March 8, 2014, 6:11 GMT

    Mahela is player who can come up at any time, I believe that Mahela will play a big role today , also Mahela and Sangakara's presence boosting the morale of Sri Lankan team while horrifying the Morale of opposition because of their huge experience, and can be matching winning or match saving abilities .

  • Android on March 8, 2014, 5:54 GMT

    Maiya should open with Kusal.... This rash idea surely will be fruit full. ......!!!

  • Dummy4 on March 8, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    Its all about confidence isnt it? Having Mahela and Sanga in the team is a confidence booster for any capitation. And also we expect Mahela to come back strongly in this match. And yeah again, i don't mind dropping Chandimal in this match too. Because Priyanjan can at least do something with the ball even if he fails in batting which Chandimal can not do:P

  • john on March 8, 2014, 4:38 GMT

    Mahela's current confidence and form does not justify him to be in an international cricketing side (let alone in a final). Keeping him for influence and reputation is nothing short of a joke. Are you people insane suggesting something so atrocious and disgusting? This is simply madness! Not only there is no influence from aging struggling players, on the contrary it brings the morale of the side down plus it is disrespect to that person itself. He is a walking wicket right now and only people who will be happy to see him on the ground are the bowlers of the opposition. Sorry Mahela fans, he is way beyond the 'use by' date.

    Any player from the squad (or from the spectators for that matter) can replace him in his current state easily - nothing in the cricketing world has ever been this clear. Please do justice to SL. SL hasn't won a final for a long time. Let the best 11 players be in the team for the final based on their current ability to contribute - not historical records.

  • Android on March 8, 2014, 3:35 GMT

    I always loved Srilankan cricket team and enjoyed the matches between both. We always have great relationships with Srilanka. Being a Pakistani I would love for us to win the tournament but wouldn't feel too bad even if Srilanka wins. I wish both the teams good luck and let the best team hold the trophy.

  • Dummy4 on March 8, 2014, 3:26 GMT

    Remember the 2011 final in India how Mahela got his century. Look out for another great knock from a great player. He is due for a big innings today. Watch him play like a master today. Good luck Sri Lanka, Good luck Mahela.

  • Parthiban on March 8, 2014, 3:26 GMT

    What a typically horrid form for mahela.

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