Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd ODI, Dubai December 20, 2013

Mathews lauds Sri Lanka's spirit


Angelo Mathews said his team's two-wicket win over Pakistan in Dubai was borne of spirit, after Sri Lanka chased down 286 with two balls and two wickets to spare. Sri Lanka's chase was the highest second-innings score at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, and the second-highest overall.

Mathews, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal all crossed 40 in the chase, and Nuwan Kulasekara also contributed 32 from 26 balls at a key period.

"We had to fight really hard for that win," Mathews said. "Everyone contributed in bits and pieces It was a team effort. With these Powerplays if you have wickets in hand at the end, it helps. Against Pakistan, the game is never over - you have to fight till the last ball is bowled, and we did that. With the bowling attack that Pakistan have, we have to fight all the time and we have to stay positive. We can't give the chance, because they will knock us down."

"I thought the first couple of wickets were unfortunate incidents because they were run outs while Kusal Janith and Dilshan were batting well. They got us through to a good start, and the way Sangakkara and Chandimal got us back into the game. They set it up and we had to do the needful."

Mathews also lauded Sangakkara, whose top score of 58 had provided heft to the chase. Mathews revealed though, that Lahiru Thirimanne had been slated to come in at No.3 before he injured his right ankle in the pre-match warm-ups.

"We don't have Mahela Jayawardene in the team, so the experience of someone like Kumar Sangakkara becomes invaluable when you are dealing with high-quality spinners like Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi, and you want to control the middle overs. We didn't want to make big changes, but we thought it would have been good to play Kumar Sangakkara at No. 4.

"Thirimanne got injured a few minutes before the match, but we had been planning for him to bat at No. 3. We thought we needed a solid batsman at three, and Kumar would move down to four, and then we've got Dinesh Chandimal. The more you keep wickets in hand, the easier it is to chase later in the match."

Mathews also shed light on why Kulasekara had been left out for the first ODI in Sharjah, despite his enduring consistency. Kulasekara has taken his wickets at 25.33 with an economy rate of 4.64 in 2013, making him Sri Lanka's best seam bowler since January.

"Kulasekara is a very good player, but in Sharjah we thought an extra fast bowler would be good. Kulasekara, Thisara Perera and myself bowl roughly in the same style. The Sharjah field is very small and the pitch is also very good for batting. We thought there would be some reverse swing, so that's why we called up Suranga Lakmal."

Mathews predicted a tightly-contested series, after the opening two matches had featured tense finishes. The next three matches will be played in the space of seven days.

"It'll be a very exciting series. The first game was an exciting one, and so was the second. Hopefully it will stay the same and it will be an exciting one for all of us. When we walked into the game, we were very confident and our heads were high because even though we lost the last match, we almost chased the target."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 22, 2013, 5:19 GMT

    RuwanFer - you are spot on.. I am an indian and I have been following Lankans since '96 and a die hard fan of this team... The problem is this simple logic Srilanka selectors haven't been able to get to their head.. My cricket god "Sanath" must take this note and give another youngster a chance in place of thisara and bring in competition for that place.. you are right @ruwan, the shot that prasanna played was horrible, he is just nothing but a dead duck before pacers... But i feel prasanna is bowling better than pacers, so he may deserve his place.. But i am very very happy that lankans are getting a chance to bat second because these youngsters have to play under pressure, with target in hands, and may add some responsibility to their game.. If they batted first, these guys would have played little recklessly.. Please, "sanath" bring in one more left hand pacer to the team.. That adds lot of variety.. I feel chandimal is playing very responsibly these days, atleast last few games..

  • Jerry on December 21, 2013, 13:57 GMT

    next game drop tissara perera and bring in Vithanage as the Pakistan batting top order seem to find difficult scoring against lb bowlers ... our bowlers especially Malinga and Tissara are giving an added 20-40 runs to the Pakistan total .. Good luck

  • Kumara on December 21, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    @Dharanidhar Chatrathy Hats off to you for following SL team. You are spot on. Thisara can smash spinners and medium pacers but when the speed goes up to 140kmph range he's a dead duck on the crease. Seekkuge Prasanna is no different. Both have to improve a lot if they are to handle quality fast bowling. There were many better all-round batting line-ups played for SL in the past. Saying this current lot as the best is laughable. Bu until we improve the middle order consistency these big hitting all-rounders will be handy for winning matches on flat batting wickets.

    @rajithwijepura I've seen many non-Sri Lankan people following SL cricket team. So I'm not sure why it's laughable to you. @priceless1 As much as it sounds odd, and may disturb some people I've to agree with you.

  • Keppetipola on December 21, 2013, 9:22 GMT

    @Fast_Track_Bully, who is Kohli?? Just another slogger!! Every team will have 10 Kohlis. He is highly overrated and survives just like Tendulkar cos umpires never want to give an LBW against both. Tendulkar would not have scored even 2000 test runs if DRS was used. Simple as that!

  • Dummy4 on December 21, 2013, 8:24 GMT

    Drop thisara perera as he is not performing. Bring in someone like farveez maharoof or dhamikka prasad. And where is akila dananjaya?

  • Amila on December 21, 2013, 8:02 GMT

    Every time they rest/drop Mahela the batting lineup comes good( we saw it in SA as well during the last ODI series) , reason for this i think its because it gives more flexibility to the batting line up as we all know that Mahela cannot/doesn't bat anywhere else other than opening or in one- down position and more often than not gets out cheaply to the pressure early

  • Dummy4 on December 21, 2013, 7:44 GMT

    @fast track bully....,if Pakistan can rely on sloggers like afridi to up the run rate in the later overs,why not SL too? SL had done their own homework too in Playing Pakistan

  • Manesh on December 21, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    It is a pity that SL need their tail end sloggers to finish the game!. It was Pakistan inability rather than SL ability leads them to a 2 wicket win.

  • lahiru on December 21, 2013, 6:13 GMT

    This is for Srilankan selectors...... why Thisara is playing? now a days he is not playing well.. kulasekara is better allrounder than him... kulasekara can win the match.. like yesterday... thisara is a big hitter and he is not doing that quite often and also he is not bowling well. he is not fielding well any more like early days.. drop him in the side and bring some genuine bowler..again not a all rounder. there are enough all rounders in the side.. balance the side.. please...

  • Rajith on December 21, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    @Dharanidhar Chatrathy - you make me laugh when you said "as a srilankan fan" lol

  • No featured comments at the moment.