South Africa v Sri Lanka, 1st quarter-final, SCG March 17, 2015

Mathews looks to make most of second home SCG


Flags billowing, papare music blaring, Sri Lankan chants in the stands: Australia's expatriate Sri Lankan population has turned out in numbers to support their team during the World Cup, and Angelo Mathews expects another friendly crowd at the SCG on Wednesday. Sri Lanka fans did not quite outnumber Australia supporters in the match between the two teams on March 8, but it had been a close-run thing, and the crowd had been in good voice when Sri Lanka's chase began to heat up.

"If you play at MCG or SCG it's like playing at home," Mathews said. "Most of the Sri Lankans across Australia or across the world - they fly into Sydney and give immense support for us. So we really enjoy playing in Sydney. It's such a wonderful atmosphere and we invite all the Sri Lankans across Australia to come to Sydney and fill up those stands."

Mathews said Rangana Herath was "fifty-fifty" to play against South Africa, and suggested he would be unlikely to be in contention if he did not bowl at training on Tuesday. As it would turn out, Herath delivered only a few balls in the nets, suggesting he was not yet at full fitness. However, Sri Lanka are likely to give him until Wednesday morning before ruling him out.

"Still in our squad we have Sachithra Senanayake and Seekkuge Prasanna," Mathews said. "Sachithra is a very experienced bowler, so we can use him at anytime. But we will wait on Rangana and give it another day to see if he heals well enough."

Herath's absence would open the door for another bowler. On a pitch that is not expected to be particularly slow, Sri Lanka may retain the three-pronged seam attack that played against Scotland, which means rookie quick Dushmantha Chameera is in the hunt for a spot, though he will have to out-compete Suranga Lakmal in order to play, Mathews said.

Angelo Mathews expects Sri Lankan fans to turn up in large numbers at the SCG © Getty Images

"Suranga and Dushmantha are different sorts of bowlers. Suranga swings it, while Dushmantha bowls bowls quite fast and he hits that 147 mark which is extraordinary for a Sri Lankan. I think he's played only two games, but he's matured. All we want him to do is go out there and bowl fast. That's all we want. We don't want him to overreact to the batsmen or anything. So we have the confidence that if he plays tomorrow he'll be up for it."

South Africa are yet to win a World Cup knockout match, but Mathews said his team were not focused on their opposition's mental state. Sri Lanka have largely been a steadier side on big occasions, but that does not necessarily give them an advantage, he said.

"Both teams will be nervous for sure, we all know that South Africans are a very hard team to beat, especially in this tournament. They've come out really hard and they have a good, balanced team. History is history. You can't really take anything from it. You've got to move on and look forward to the games that you play. Statistics, I don't really bother about. We have to go out there and perform well to beat the South Africans."

Mathews praised Kumar Sangakkara, ahead of what will be at worst, his final ODI, or at best, his third-to-last game, focusing particularly on Sangakkara's commitment to improvement. He was however, wary of AB de Villiers - South Africa's most prolific batsman in the tournament.

"AB is such a destructive player. We need to try to get rid of him as early as we can or else we'll be in trouble. When he gets going, it's really hard to stop him."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Iraj on March 18, 2015, 7:53 GMT

    So sad about Sangakkara. He could have score his 5th ton in a row if others never collapsed such a pathetic way. Anyway it's all in the bowlers hands. SL need wickets to win within this miniature total. Malinga & Kaushal are the key players & Dilshan & Mathews could do the supporting role. It's obvious that SA is the clear winner but SL should never give up. Hope our guys could fight till the end. Good luck SL. At least take 05 wickets.

  • SIva on March 18, 2015, 0:15 GMT

    So, SA the second team from top eight to leave the WC!

  • Dummy4 on March 17, 2015, 20:46 GMT

    It's definitely RSA's match to lose... but there's something almost Pakistan '92 about Sri Lanka's lukewarmness.

  • Dummy4 on March 17, 2015, 18:28 GMT

    SA will win for sure. And Sanga's send off should be well planned

  • menon on March 17, 2015, 18:12 GMT

    Military medium pacers of Srilanka will handover the advantage to Saffers.

  • Chatty on March 17, 2015, 18:05 GMT

    Leave Herath out. He is clearly not fit. I wish they would make that decision early and move on. This is a big match an uncertainty is not great for the players in contention. All the best to Angie and the boys!

  • Dummy on March 17, 2015, 18:03 GMT

    Both teams bowling attack is very similer. But SL got big guns in top order with top form rather than SA. Bating is the only key for lankans because we know SA got better fielding side. If SL does not SLOPPY in fielding deffernatly got more chance to win. All the best for our SL team!!!!#.....

  • Rajesh on March 17, 2015, 17:49 GMT

    Sorry to disappoint you guys, Tomorrow Sanga will be run out. and SA players will all give a very respectable send off -applause all around. - Miss you Sanga

  • Dummy4 on March 17, 2015, 16:55 GMT

    I really hope Herath will recover in time. Even an 80% fit Herath is better than the out of form Senanayake or the useless Prasanna. And we really need to bat first!!!

  • Irfan on March 17, 2015, 16:34 GMT

    SL should field well and hang onto the catches. SL should play this xi. 1. Tharanga 2. Dily 3. Sanga 4. Maiya 5. Anji 6. Thiri 7. Thisara 8. Kule 9. Ranga 10. Malinga 11. Chameera/Lakmal. Coz we have seen Thiri give lot of edges as an opener. If i'm right in 3/4 matches he has given edge to the slips. On 2/3 times he was dropped. SL should give chance to Tharanga (Among the Top 5 run scorers in 2011 WC) to open the innings. And Thiri should bat at no 5/6. This should give more balance to the middle order. Angelo should be good at no 6. Bcz he plays well with the tail enders. We should remember that SA are not good chasers. And i think in the last 10 overs SA's bowler's have given more runs than any other team in this WC.

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