Sri Lanka need team effort for success in ODIs - Mathews
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has called for strong collective performance, rather than reliance on key players, as he prepares to lead the team in his first ODI series as captain. Sri Lanka's 1-0 Test series win over Bangladesh was largely founded upon the efforts of Rangana Herath, who took 12 wickets in the Colombo Test, and Kumar Sangakkara, who averaged 110 in the series. Herath has been rested for the first two ODI matches, while Sangakkara has, in the past, not been the force that he is in Tests.
Sri Lanka, who are also missing Mahela Jayawardene due to a finger injury, have named an inexperienced squad featuring three uncapped players, while Sachithra Senanayake, who is the only specialist spinner in the squad has only played seven ODIs. Vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal has played 50 ODIs, but did not have a regular place in the side in 2012, and Kushal Janith Perera, who may be called upon to open the innings, is only in his second international series.
"Everyone has to play a big part in this team, for us to win," Mathews said on the eve of the first match. "Everyone has to contribute. We are not looking at the spinners or the seamers, we are looking at a collective effort. We have to realise that there's talent all through the squad and we're not after certain players who have to really perform. We are a very good unit and all 11 can perform on the day and win the series."
In the last year, Sri Lanka have used three allrounders in their limited-overs playing XI with moderate success, and Mathews hinted his side would persevere with that combination against Bangladesh. Thisara Perera has fulfilled the role of bowling allrounder for Sri Lanka, and Jeevan Mendis has largely been picked for his batting. Mathews meanwhile, sees himself as more of a genuine allrounder in the shorter formats. Sachith Pathirana is also an allrounder, and although Mathews said the team were excited about the prospect of new players being blooded in this series, he also spoke about the youth that has been embedded in the ODI side for some time.
"Looking at the one-day unit, we've had the same combination for a long time and most of the guys are young. We are missing Mahela Jayawardene due to injuries and, apart from Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan, in the batting line-up we are all pretty young and growing as a team. As for the bowlers, Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara provide the experience there, and Sachithra Senanayake and Thisara Perera have also been playing some really good cricket in the recent past."
None of the Sri Lanka players have played competitive limited-overs cricket since the tour of Australia ended in late January, and given the packed schedule, will only have one training session to adjust to the shorter format. Mathews said learning to adapt quickly was part of the modern game, and was confident his side would change quickly into an ODI mindset.
"It's not easy, but we as players have to adjust to conditions and situations as soon as possible. That's our main target. We've played some really good cricket in the Test matches, and prior to that we had some good three-day games in domestic cricket. We haven't played much one-day cricket since the Australia tour, but we have to be ready as a team, and have to switch mentally as soon as possible."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here