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

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