Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Melbourne January 8, 2013

Confident of turning things around - Mathews

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Angelo Mathews is confident Sri Lanka can bounce back after their disappointing Test series and challenge Australia in the one-day internationals, which begin at the MCG on Friday. Following their 3-0 defeat in the Tests, the Sri Lankans could be forgiven for wanting nothing more than to get on a plane and head home, but the limited-overs battles provide them with a very good opportunity to end the tour well.

For starters, the Sri Lankans will be coming up against an Australia outfit lacking experience, to be led by George Bailey and likely to feature debutants in the top three batting positions. Add to that a significant increase in venom in Sri Lanka's attack due to the presence of Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis and the teenage spinner Akila Dananjaya, who possesses a dangerous doosra, and Sri Lanka might even enter the first match as favourites.

"I think it's going to be a fresh start because there are a few guys who will be joining us as well," Mathews said in Melbourne ahead of the first ODI. "It's very disappointing the way we played in the Test matches but I think we need to get through that, flush it out of the system and concentrate on the ODIs.

"Lasith Malinga is joining us as well and we have got more fire in our bowling department ... I think he's the best bowler going around in world cricket at the moment in the Twenty20 format. The pitches in Australia won't turn as much so you need some sort of mystery. We have Mendis and Akila Dananjaya, they bowl a lot of variations. They are going to be very handy in these conditions."

Sri Lanka also have a formidable recent record at the MCG, where they have won their past three one-day internationals. Mathews said that while it was important not to dwell on past performances, he had fond memories of Sri Lanka's win in Melbourne in November 2010, when he and Malinga combined for a remarkable 132-run eighth-wicket stand that rescued Sri Lanka in a chase of 240.

"It was a great moment in my cricket career, especially against the Aussies, losing eight wickets for a hundred-odd and you really can't do much afterwards," Mathew said of the match, in which he scored 77 not out. "But myself and Malinga just wanted to have some fun, take the Powerplay and go for some shots. As soon as we got close to the 200-mark we thought we can give it a shot. Then we were pretty serious afterwards and it came off really well.

"I would say it's one of the best innings I have played up till now. Especially against the Aussies, and also it was my first tour to Australia - the first ever game I played in Australia as well. It was a very big moment and a very big stepping stone for my career."

During that match, as with all of Sri Lanka's recent limited-overs performances in Melbourne, there was a healthy Sri Lankan contingent in the MCG crowd. Mathews said the support was always a bonus for the side when playing away from home. "Definitely the Sri Lankan community is very large here in Melbourne," he said, "and they are always behind us and backing us from the word go."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on January 10, 2013, 5:05 GMT

    Well..well...it's iteresting that some of Oz fans are going nuts against T20 and limited over cricket fortmat witch gives more liveliness to the game.@tallgrass@ Randsy OZ- What are you guys braggin about Test format? let the game do the talk.I don't see your points cretisizing SL team who is far more better than a Oz side who says that they are more formidable in the shorter game. Let the bowlers and the batters prove.You can talk all day long about "Test Criket" being the best out from the rest, but we Sri Lankans have a far more trak record than Kangaroos.Well in sub continent level "NO" ENG, SA, NZ,AUS can match our record.It's our game.Well most of us even don't like "Test cricket" when you have to spend five days just watching white pants just playing boaring cricket.

  • tallgrass on January 10, 2013, 1:35 GMT

    Tired of this superfluous pre-match hype about a team that has a million on and off field issues. When will SL admin, players and fans understand that ODI cricket is an absolutely useless benchmark and TEST cricket is the real deal? Mahela with all this whimpering should have been left out of this series and Mathews could have led the team with a young side. Because the tour is already a fiasco...noting can turn the tide other than a young side proving that we are ready for transition! Imagine the motivation for Eranga and Lakmal after working their ---- off for the tests and suddenly the 'blue-eyed boy' of the Big Bucks Leage arrives and they are left to warm the bench!

  • Moppa on January 10, 2013, 0:53 GMT

    Wow, this guy Dananjaya hasn't played a first-class match! The last player I can remember playing limited overs internationals without a first-class match was, well, David Warner. Will be interesting to see how the young man bowls. PS: what a production line of excellent limited overs spinners Sri Lanka has, with Mendis of course, and Senanayake playing for the Sixers in the BBL.

  • Jay.Raj on January 9, 2013, 21:08 GMT

    My Team for Srilanka: 1. Tillakaratne Dilshan 2. Upul Tharanga 3.Dinesh Chandimal. 4.Mahela Jayawardena 5. Lahiru Thirimanne 6. Angelo Mathews 7. Jeevan Mendis 8. Thissara Perera 9.Nuwan Kulasekara/Shaminda Eranga 10. Ajantha Mendis 11. Lasith Malinga

    We need more pacers than spinners in Aus conditions and hence we have to go with Thissara.

  • RandyOZ on January 9, 2013, 17:18 GMT

    These 'ODI specialists' aka not good enough for test cricket players (which is especially embarrassing considering how poor Sri Lanka are in tests, including having never won one in Oz) will hardly have us shaking in our boots.

  • MENDIS_Forever on January 9, 2013, 13:34 GMT

    @Colombo_SL : Totally agree with you mate.It's too early to call us the favorites.Aussies have a very good team,although some of them are unknown.The bunch of inexperienced batsmen will struggle against Malinga,Mendis ,and Akila,but rest won't.They are playing their own soil. Will be a testing series for us.

  • colombo_SL on January 9, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    We have to face with Australia in England at the group stage of Champions Trophy. So, this may be a good practice for both teams.

  • colombo_SL on January 9, 2013, 10:57 GMT

    Our recent record in ODI is 1. Lost in Asia cup 2. Won the Pak series 3. Lost to India 1-4, 4. Won against NZ 3-0. So it is inconsistent. We just want to use thiis series to be consistent.

  • colombo_SL on January 9, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    We are too early to predict the end result. What we should do, just stick in to the basics & concentrate on a game at a time.

  • colombo_SL on January 9, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    @Dilum-SL; I just feel that, we are the favourites. But it is too difficult to beat Australia not only on their home soil but away from home. Even Pakistan lost the series with Australia 1-2 in UAE. Our recent records in Australia (ODI) & inclusion of new players to the squad made me to think as favourits. In addition to that, our players are very capable to limited overs format. Although, it is very difficult ot beat them.