India v Bangladesh, Asia Cup, Dhaka March 2, 2016

Seniors have not clicked - Mathews


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Younger players need time but must perform - Mathews

Angelo Mathews looked like a man who didn't want to be at the press conference, following Sri Lanka's five-wicket defeat against India. Inside the Shere Bangla National Stadium's belly, Mathews gave one answer after another about his team's lackluster showing at the Asia Cup.

Only thanks to same late blows, Sri Lanka reached 138 for 9 in 20 overs against India on Tuesday. Their first productive over came in the 11th, when they scored 10. Overall, there were only four overs that fetched more than 10 runs. Dinesh Chandimal and Tillakaratne Dilshan struggled to get going while Chamara Kapugedara gave it away after a good start. Thisara Perera hit out at the death, but was wrongly adjudged stumped in the penultimate over of the innings.

Sri Lanka were eventually put out of their misery by a cameo from Yuvraj Singh. Sri Lanka's stand-in T20 captain Mathews has said that the senior batsmen have not delivered. Mathews also wanted the youngsters to step up and help spark a turnaround.

"I am repeating myself every day," Mathews said. "We have the team we have here; we are depending on a handful of seniors most of the time. If the seniors fail, we are in a spot of bother most of the time. Specially in a tournament like the Asia Cup and the World Cup you need a lot of seniors in the team. Unfortunately we haven't clicked. It will take a little time for the younger guys to start performing. We have to be patient, but this is not the right time to be patient.

"I think firstly that it's not just the seniors who have to perform. The selectors have picked a squad and everyone has to perform. This is a big stage and no one is here to learn. This is a stage where you have to perform. You can't rely on a handful of seniors. We all know Dilshan has been a great servant of Sri Lankan cricket for a long time, and I don't think this is the time to make that massive change. I am just the stand-in captain. I don't really know what the selectors and the captain are thinking. But I think we have to be patient and hope the batting lineup fires in the next game."

Mathews conceded that Sri Lanka's confidence was shot, but said that he saw glimpses of positive intent during their batting. "It is quite damaging, especially the confidence level and the morale," Mathews said. "You can't keep losing, it's difficult to digest. So close to the World Cup, we have to connect the dots together and maybe try a few combinations.

"We just have to be positive. But I kind of sensed a positive approach in our batting today and that's how we have to play."

Dilshan's form has been a big worry for Sri Lanka. After a hand injury forced him out of the first T20 against India in Pune, Dilshan managed only a run in the next two matches. The struggle seeped into the Asia Cup as well. He made only 57 runs in three games in Mirpur. Mathews, however, backed Dilshan to come good.

"I think everybody hits a rough patch, and he has had a few rough patches here and there and his last few innings were not very bad," Mathews said. "We all need to take responsibility. Not just the seniors.

"The selectors and the captain have picked a squad, which they think is good. And so we have to try and go out there with who we have in the squad. We need to have faith in them and move forward."

The losses against Bangladesh and India have put Sri Lanka's final chances in jeopardy. Sri Lanka need Pakistan to beat Bangladesh and then defeat Pakistan themselves and wait on the net run rate.

If Bangladesh put it across Pakistan on Wednesday, Sri Lanka are out of the tournament. Already on Tuesday, Mathews looked and spoke like the stand-in captain of a team that was on its way out.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Dileepa Gunawardane on March 6, 2016, 15:59 GMT

    What actually happen was, the Sri Lankan (SL) selectors went to search technically sound players, forgetting the fact that SL was always relied on unorthodox players in the past. Reason may be the impact of Mahela and Sanga. It is a known fact that most modern players in the word are now following the theories introduced by SL, such as scoring fast in power plays (in fact power play introduced after the tactic was practiced by SL in 90s), Slow yoker, slow bouncer (after Shaun polok), wide yocker, some types of slow balls (remember Isuru udana and Dilhara ), Doosra was popularized by Murali although it was introduced by Saqlain, carom ball and of cz Dil-scoop. I think way out of this should be a rising of a player or two with mystery techniques. Players such as Chandimal or Mathiws with ordinary techniques will not be able to do that on their own. Thissara or Siriwardane might arise like Sanath did (Sana was an ordinary player till about 05 yrs of his career).

  • Pubudu on March 6, 2016, 7:35 GMT

    I think. it's the bowling options we need to think more, batting was never our strong point after 1996 world cup even after Sanga and Mahela was there, Bowlers used to defend even if we get 140. Unorthodox spin bowlers can make things harder for oppositions when they come to the scene similar to Ajantha Mendis. current bowlers are all known and walk in the park for hitters. e.g Kulasekara they can hit as they wish in death overs if no swing in Indian pitches. Following bowlers should be there to give the some kind of a boost.

    1. Lakshan Sandaken - World has not seen this guy specially since we have England, South Africa, west indies in the WT20 group, he's a chinamon bowler offers some thing different and can be hard to get used initially

    2. Aselea Gunarathna - offers some thing different, off cutters ,deceptive run up and can be hard to get used initially, so 2- 3 cheap overs will good for the team and he's an all rounder.

    3. Maharoof -

    So bowling will be - Malinga, Chameera, Maha

  • chethana on March 3, 2016, 13:18 GMT

    i think mathews want thirimanne,tharanga,jeevan mendis,randiv,ajantha mendis,dilruwan perera,lakmal,eranga,dilhara,pradeep,prasad few of them rather than shehan,dasun. available of thirimanne,tharanga,jeevan will increase the reliability & experience of the batting lineup. these 3 batters have lot of experience & even they are not aged guys.

  • Anil Nanayakkara on March 3, 2016, 13:16 GMT

    It is pretty clear from these statements that Mathews thinks Dilshan should be dropped. Clearly, there is a lack of explosiveness in his game which puts pressure on Chandimal to go for more. The only option available though to fill this need is Tisara Perera. What a jam SL is in.

  • Jayamal on March 3, 2016, 11:50 GMT

    Need to re-vamp the entire T20 team. Include youngsters and give them the responsibility for showing results. A new young T20 captain needs to be appointed. The selection committee should get back to the drawing board and come up with a team that can formulate a winning strategy. I have heard ad-nauseam how the "Seniors failed to click" (sic) whenever SL lost a match. What is important is a "new-look" team devoid of so called "seniors'. We have enough of talented "Juniors" to take the mantel forward. Better start immediately.

  • Rizwan1970 on March 3, 2016, 9:04 GMT

    I don't see the statement "team is dependent on seniors" is true as there not worth wile contribution from seniors in recent matches . Even if it is true one main responsible person for that is Mathews himself as we have seen during his captaincy there is systematic process to not allowing to express new players in order to protect seniors also the seniors influence spineless selection committee toward this process. As results as fan we demand immediate resignation if selection committee and hand over the job to persons who can take fruitful decision toward future of SL cricket as Bangladesh has done. If this is not done many of us loss interest toward Sl cricket which we had since we gain test status despite many losses but allowed to blossom many talent like Arjuna,Aravinda,Manama,Gurusinghe,Mahela, Sanga, Murali, Vaas few who was then captain and administrator allowed to thrive form young age.

  • Niroshan on March 3, 2016, 6:47 GMT

    MiIinda should open with Chandimal.......... to get that firepower ... Then.... Shehan,Kapu,Mathews,Thisara,dasun,Kula/Sachithra,Herath,Chameera,Malinga

  • Mark on March 3, 2016, 0:37 GMT

    I agree, Siriwardane should open. Since Jayawardene left, opening with 2 right handers does not work, it allows the opening bowlers from the opposition to settle.

  • hiru on March 2, 2016, 17:40 GMT

    get siriwardene to open he has the power witch kausal has. need to let him free to play his shots and I am sure his going to deliver

  • Chatty on March 2, 2016, 15:42 GMT

    SL needs a permanent captain for the World T20. Malinga is too fragile and the uncertainty does not help. With Mahela and Sanga in the team, the captaincy did not matter much. But I am not sure that the 'team of captains' concept works anymore. Clearly, the team looks demoralized. They need to pick themselves up. Angie sounds very negative - saying "I don't really know what the selectors and the captain are thinking" does not sound good at all. They need a shot in the arm. They need counseling. Otherwise, the young guys in the team will be totally demoralized. But I agree that the performance against India was marginally better than that against BD. But, that is no consolation!

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