'Dropped catches have hurt Sri Lanka'- Mathews
Angelo Mathews has said dropped catches have cost Sri Lanka the ongoing ODI series against India. Suresh Raina, who was involved in match-winning partnerships during the third and the fourth ODI in Colombo, was put down at crucial stages in both games. Virender Sehwag was dropped on zero in the opening game in Hambantota before he made 96 as India posted a winning 314. "Against the Indian batting line up, you can't drop that many catches," Mathews said. "If you take from number one to seven, they're all are very good batters."
The series has been played on largely flat batting-friendly pitches so far. Mathews said he favoured "sporting" wickets, especially against a strong Indian batting line-up. "I've always fancied good sporting tracks, rather than playing on dead tracks. We all know that they [India] have a very strong batting line up. We need to come up with ideas, if we're to win against them. Preparing certain wickets also will help."
Sri Lanka have not beaten India in a bilateral ODI series since 1997. Mathews said Sri Lanka had made more mistakes than India had, and cited the example of the current series. "It happened three times so far in this series. If we make more mistakes, we're going to get more penalised. I'm sure the guys are aware of that and if we're to win, we need to me more positive and aggressive."
Sri Lanka have had a heavy workload since the 2011 World Cup while India have had a two-month break. Mathews said that professional players could not cite fatigue as an excuse, but admitted that India's break had helped them. "We're all professionals and we play the game with busy schedules. It's certainly not an excuse. It's always better to have a few days off. We really haven't had a long break in the last one and half years. Yes, I think it [the break] has helped them [India] to freshen up."
With tomorrow's game of little consequence, Mathews said Sri Lanka might consider giving fringe players a chance. Batsman Chamara Kapugedara and offspinner Sachithra Senanayake are yet to play a game in the series.
Mathews also backed young batsman Dinesh Chandimal, whose highest score in the series has been 28, to come good. "We don't try to distract him with too much talking. He's a player who can always come back and do his part. He's shown lots of character. A player can fail in three four innings but a guy like Chandimal will always come back."
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo