Confident of turning things around - Mathews
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