Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup, final, Dhaka March 8, 2014

'Thirimanne batted with a niggle' - Mathews

ESPNcricinfo staff

After missing most of Sri Lanka's series against Bangladesh with an ankle injury, Lahiru Thirimanne returned to the side ahead of the Asia Cup. After he scored a century in the final to help his team achieve a five-wicket win, Sri Lanka's captain Angelo Mathews said Thirimanne had batted with a "bit of a niggle" in their last two games.

"He [Thirimanne] has been amazing for us," Mathews said. "He got injured, unfortunately, in the last series but he came back for us. He had a little bit of a niggle still, while he was batting, in the last two games, and he was very courageous to come out and play, the way he did.

"[I am] very happy, because you push him up the order, you push him down the order, he's one of those players who never get a chance at one spot. And wherever he gets the opportunity he scores runs for us. And that's a team player for me, and he did amazing for us, and he's a great find for us."

Mathews agreed when asked if Thirimanne was in line to become Kumar Sangakkara's long-term replacement in the Sri Lanka side.

"Yeah, after Sangakkara, Mahela [Jayawardene] retire, Thirimanne, [Dinesh] Chandimal are the ones who are going to take their reins. It is not easy to fill their shoes, but the way they are performing right now, I'm pretty sure they'll take responsibility in the future."

After his century in the final, Thirimanne's average in the top three rose to 49.08 in 14 innings. At No. 4 or lower, he averages 22.80 in 33 innings.

"We've got to see how it goes," Mathews said, when asked if Thirimanne would retain his role as opener in the near future. "He opened the batting because [Tillakaratne] Dilshan got injured in the Bangladesh series. As I said before, he's one of those players, you give him the opportunity, wherever you bat him, he will score runs for us. We still haven't thought about where he's going to bat, but definitely he's been a find for us this tournament."

Lasith Malinga was Sri Lanka's other hero of the day, taking all five wickets that fell during Pakistan's innings. He was returning to the side after sitting out the match against Bangladesh.

"Really happy that he rested against Bangladesh," Mathews said. "It's not easy to play consistently, especially for the fast bowlers [who] especially tire out so much. We don't have a lot of time in between [matches] so it's always useful to manage the fast bowlers, especially their workloads, and we saved him for the final. He got a five-for in the first game against Pakistan, and also another five-for today, so he's been performing tremendously for us and he's been our premier bowler for so many years."

At the toss, Sri Lanka took the unexpected decision of leaving out Ajantha Mendis, who had till then been their highest wicket-taker in the tournament. Mathews said the team had wanted to play an extra fast bowler after looking at the pitch.

"All we talked about was, the wicket is very good, and it played very good as well," Mathews said. "It didn't spin so much, that's why we wanted to play the extra seamer, because the wicket wasn't, it didn't look slow, initially."

Asked why it was Mendis who sat out, Mathews said it had been a hard call, but the team went with Sachithra Senanayake's ability to bowl economically in difficult situations.

"He's been performing for us, brilliantly, Mendis, and all the bowlers played their part in the last game as well, so it was a very tough decision," Mathews said. "Even though Senanayake went wicketless in the last game [against Bangladesh], in his 10 overs he went for 37 runs and he bowled in the first Powerplay and also in the batting Powerplay and also in the last 10 overs, so those are the crucial times you have to stop runs and he's been doing that for us.

"It's just that one game where he went off track today, can't really blame, because bowlers tend to have one off day. He has been a star performer for us, even though he hasn't taken a lot of wickets."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 10, 2014, 13:02 GMT

    Angelo Mathews and team with Chandimal and Thirimanne is like the SL team led by Arjuna with Aravinda and Mahanama..... at last we have got back that never give up attitude in the whole team.

  • Dark on March 10, 2014, 11:02 GMT

    Salman_Shakeel84: Personally, I do not blame Misbah for not walking, I do not think any batsman should "walk" when they nicks it. That's what the umpires are there for.. But as a cricket follower, I'm certain Mahela, Sanga, Gilchrist will always walk if they nicked it.. Its up to the batsman to walk or not.

    My point here is Misbah chose not to walk when he was struggling to score on a good batting wicket... he scored 65 off 98. Where as if Akmal was in he could have scored the additional number of deliveries to score a 100 + and even Afridi would have got a good 25 to 30 ball BOOM SMASH the SL bowlers. Clearly this wicket was a 320 + batting wicket.

  • tharuka on March 10, 2014, 10:32 GMT

    @Salman_Shakeel84.look at this and think before you comment any thing... 17.3 Shahid Afridi to Jayawardene, no run, Akmal is appealing without any restraint. The bowler does not join in. None of the fielders do. This was pushed through fuller and turns outside off. Mahela was coming forward to defend but is beaten by the turn. There seems to be a bit of noise as the ball passes the bat, but umpire Oxenford says no. I dont think there was a edge either

  • tharuka on March 10, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    @Salman_Shakeel84. if mahela nick sure he will walk better clear your ears..

  • ESPN on March 10, 2014, 10:18 GMT

    I think Sl still need a left arm swing bowler like vaas If we have a player like him we will be stronger I see only malinga as a fast option to Sl

  • Salman on March 10, 2014, 10:02 GMT

    People Talking about Misbah's nick and not walking away

    Why did Mahela did not walk after nicking to Akmal on the bowling of Afridi

    Misbah was wrong , so was Mahela.

    But criticizing and pointing only Misbah is unfair. Mahela must also be included for a fair criticism

  • Dummy4 on March 10, 2014, 9:31 GMT

    @Un_Citoyen_Indien You are well come mate.

  • Abdul on March 10, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    I request to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to please change the captain with some enthusiastic captain like Shahid Afridi. As I guess Pakistan Team no more required Misbah Services, he just plays for his own self rather than playing for Pakistan. He is an middle order Batsman, have not ability to analyze that what the run rate is required to accelerate with that speed, he simply plays for his own self to secure his place as he scored 57 of 97 balls and at a point when he should must hits smoothly so he just gets out usually with an stupid shot. It's totally bullshit. We had Inzama ul Haz, Ijaz Ahmad, Miyandad etc. when they were playing so they were looking to the required run rate and were taking risks when required. Actually at a time when it is required to take risk and that is the only option so Misbah cannot take it and that's what his failure is. I request PCB to replace Captain with some aggressive one like Afridi or hafeez and also replace misbah with fresh middle order batsman

  • Dark on March 10, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    All the fans seems to forget one point here... Well done SL and Thiri Slinga all that... But the true hero who gave the game on a sliver platter to SL is non other than Misbah. No one seems to thank him for his contribution of the match which made it possible for SL to win. IF he walked when he nicked it, then it would have been Akmals chance to go against SL bowlers. Like we all saw, it wasn't a mine field of a pitch to bat on. Just that Misbah couldn't score fast! If Afridi got 25 to 35 balls to bat SL would have been chasing something like 325 +. So SL fans, pls show your gratitude to the true MOM...

  • Dummy4 on March 10, 2014, 4:32 GMT

    All Cricket fans badly refused that Umar Guls bad behavior in the field. How many timed he came with FOUR LEGS to Thirimanna after bowling ?. But nothing happened,Cambrian ( Prince of wales` college , Moratuwa ) Thirimanna was playing a gentlemen's game. Well-done Srilankans Keep it up.

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