World T20 2016 March 9, 2016

Mathews hopes to rise to unexpected challenge


Angelo Mathews has admitted he was not mentally prepared to take over as Twenty20 captain after Lasith Malinga resigned because of fitness problems. Mathews said he could not refuse the leadership once Sri Lanka Cricket offered it to him.

"I was not," Mathews said in Mumbai, when asked if he was immediately open to taking up SLC's offer. "But I have the experience of captaining for quite a few years now so it is a challenge. The selectors and Lasith have been planning for this tournament for a quite a long time so they worked together. And now it is a whole different situation, so I have to do the best and get the best out of the team which I have."

Though Mathews is Sri Lanka's Test and ODI captain, Malinga was appointed as Twenty20 captain after Sri Lanka won the 2014 World T20 in Bangladesh. Of Sri Lanka's 14 T20Is since, though, Malinga has played only six because of injuries. He played only one match this year - the Asia Cup opener - in which he was Man of the Match for taking 4 for 26 against UAE.

Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal have been stand-in captains in Malinga's absence and even now Mathews said he had accepted the captaincy only for the World Twenty20. "I don't really know what the thinking is after this. I was told to lead the team in the World Cup and how can I say no," Mathews said. "I can't let the team down and the country down. I will take this as a positive because I know they trusted me. I will try my best to do whatever possible to get to the top with the team that I have. They have given me the team that I wanted and now it is the matter of going out there and expressing ourselves."

Sri Lanka enter this tournament as rank outsiders. Having twice finished as runners-up, Sri Lanka won their maiden World T20 title in 2014, but the slide has been swift since then: they have won just four T20Is and lost 10. In 2016, Sri Lanka have lost seven out of nine matches.

Mathews said he felt like Sri Lanka had "not competed" at all during the disastrous Asia Cup campaign, but he was not too concerned by it. "Not going in as favourites, it is doing a favour for us. We have admitted that we haven't played good cricket in the Asia Cup. But the morale … well, the moale in the team is quite good. We can't say that we are all depressed and we are mourning about the Asia Cup. It is done and dusted. It is a new series. It is a fresh start for us. So we are hoping that we'll click. We are starting our campaign from tomorrow and hopefully we can go right till the end."

Mathews wanted his players to play with freedom and express themselves. "If you look from the outside, no one will give us a chance and that's a good thing because we can go out there and express ourselves and play with a lot of freedom. That is what I expect from the team. We want to take one game at a time, play with a lot of freedom because if we do play with a lot of freedom I am sure we are going to beat most of the teams. That is all I want from the team, they very well know what I expect."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nick on March 14, 2016, 4:05 GMT

    Sacking the selection panel after they have chosen the squad for the T20 World Cup, because you don't like the squad they chose or their choice of captain? Extraordinary goings on. And then the new de Silva panel makes just two token changes to the original squad - Thirimanne and Lakmal for Dickwella and Vandersay. The Asia Cup debacle called for wholesale changes to the SL squad, but neither the Kapila led panel nor the hastily assembled Aravinda panel were prepared to wield the axe. Which leaves Sri Lankan cricket in disarray and a united Afghanistan champing at the bit for their Super 10 match-up.

  • Dumindu on March 11, 2016, 8:01 GMT

    This is a very late good decision,will wait and see whether it is early/late or good/bad

  • Chatty on March 10, 2016, 19:45 GMT

    I am beginning to think that this whole tournament will be a bit of a disaster. I truly hope I am wrong. I remember SL had a great 2014, up to and including the test series win in England. Then, just before the WC down under, SL went to NZ and got truly hammered. I think that scarred them and the performance disappeared. Here too, SL went to India and got hammered before the tournament and I think those scars will remain. I don't think that this is all about lack of talent. It is more. They have got so used to getting hammered. They have forgotten how to win. Today's match was bizzare. SL played the second eleven on the bowling side. Why? Are they trying to 'hide' their best attack? That is ridiculous. Play the best team and try to win a couple of matches. We can't learn to win when it is the real thing!

  • Raj on March 10, 2016, 17:27 GMT

    Only 3 form batsmen in SL team are, Kapugadera, Thirimane and Sriwardene. In T20, they need to face more balls for any positive results.

    Dilshan, out of form, accumulator who has been failing in the past T20s that he has played. He is no more an interest to any T20 team, including IPL.

    Chandimal is not suitable for T20 at all, he needs 40 balls to get settled....

    I know SL selectos wont drop Dilshan. Open with Dilshan and Thirimane, send Kapu or Sriwardene as 3rd batsman.

  • nipun on March 10, 2016, 16:57 GMT

    With this squad, the likely combination is 1) chandimal 2) dilshan 3) thirimanne 4) kapugedara 5) mathews 6) siriwardene 7)parera 8) senanayeke 9) herath 10) chamera 11) malinga (if not fit then kulasekera) Just a thought: what if thisara parera is asked to open the batting? Can he do something at that position? i wonder!!!!!

  • Raj on March 10, 2016, 15:19 GMT

    Mathew's captaincy is not suitable for T20. The way he uses Chameera is questionable. In the past SL brought good bowlers and batsmen and they disappeared, it is because they haven't given opportunities either by selectors or by Mathew so that they can be successful.

    Chameera is always brought into attack when the playing situation is not very suitable for him, yet he produced good results.

    In today's warm up game, he wasnt given even one over to ball and get accustomed to the playing condition.

    Mathew is not a tactician or aggressive captain when opposition loose wickets who can go for killing. His Captaincy and field setting is very ordinary and boring.

    Hope SL will win at least few matches. No hope of reaching semi-final unless Mathew change is captaincy skills.

    He is well known to bring in form batsman very late in the game where he cannot do any damage and bringing the strike bowler very late in the game after batsmen get settled.

  •   Charuka Alahakoon on March 10, 2016, 13:09 GMT

    malinga is the key, without him we can't win this t20 world cup

  • exhil on March 10, 2016, 11:13 GMT

    Is Lakmal there because he led his club to the title? Poor selection.The previous Board had recommended Kasun Rajitha before they were sacked.

  •   Dilshan Abeysekera on March 10, 2016, 9:45 GMT

    My message to SL team. Give your 100% to win the WT20. Be always posstive .. good luck guys

  • Sirsak on March 10, 2016, 9:44 GMT

    we should immediately change our domestic structure and take a leaf from australia books as they also have very few population

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