Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 2nd ODI, Hambantota

Mathews' weather gamble backfires

Andrew Fidel Fernando

November 13, 2013

Comments: 44 | Text size: A | A

A wet Hambantota with the covers on, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 2nd ODI, Hambantota, November 12, 2013
The rain made a mockery of Sri Lanka's two-spinner strategy © AFP
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Angelo Mathews has admitted Sri Lanka did not consider the likelihood of rain when they chose their XI for the second ODI against New Zealand, nor did they vouch on weather hampering the team bowling second, at the toss.

New Zealand have hoped to bowl first in both matches in Hambantota, reasoning that Duckworth-Lewis recalculations favour chasing sides. Despite the potency of Sri Lanka's ongoing monsoon, though, Mathews has wished to bat first on both occasions, focusing on the inclination of the venue's surface instead. The first match had been washed out after 54.2 overs, and last November's ODI series against New Zealand had also been severely affected by rain, with the team bowling first gaining a discernible advantage in those matches.

Sri Lanka were doubly disadvantaged by the rain in the second match, as they contended with a wet ball that the spinners in particular found harder to grip, and a wet outfield that lubricated the ball's passage over it. The visitors eventually secured a thrilling four-wicket win, off the last ball of the match.

"We played two spinners, because we didn't make a decision based on the weather," Mathews said. "If you looked at our innings, their spinners managed to get some good turn, which showed the pitch was susceptible to spin. We weren't taking rainfall into the equation. There was rain in the past few days, but because we couldn't foresee what would happen with the weather, we took the choice to have a balanced attack - with three fast bowlers and two spinners.

"If you look at the pitch here, it's good to bat on at the start and gets more and more suited to spin, and plays slower as the match goes on. We aimed to put a big total on the board first up, but didn't take the rain into account."

In a frank assessment of his team's failure, however, Mathews suggested changes to that strategy might be afoot, ahead of the last match of the series in Dambulla. Sri Lanka must win that match - provided the rains relent long enough to allow a game - in order to draw the series.

*"The loss is a great lesson for us, given the way we coped with the ball," he said. "We have to think about how we grip the ball and how we bowl when the ball gets wet, and also about the team to play in that situation. We'll go to Dambulla, look at the pitch, and take the decision on that. Even in this match, we played what was our best XI, but we'll have a look at if the combination needs to change in the next game."

Mathews also defended his decision to use all available overs from his seam bowlers before the final over of the match, in a game that was going to the wire. Tom Latham and Luke Ronchi had produced a match-turning 93-run partnership in New Zealand's middle overs, to bring their equation down to 41 runs from four overs, when Mathews made the call to bowl both Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara, who had three overs left between them. That decision left Rangana Herath with the final over, in which he failed to defend 20 runs, against a militant Nathan McCullum.

"I couldn't use Rangana earlier because our two spinners weren't able to grip the ball or turn the wet ball, and Luke Ronchi and Tom Latham were batting well," Mathews said. "I needed a wicket at that time, and that's why I gave the ball to Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara, hoping that they would bowl well and keep as many runs left to defend as possible. I gave three fast bowlers the chance to bowl the maximum quota of five overs. "Lasith and Nuwan bowled really well to give us 20 to defend in the last over, and I thought Rangana Herath would do well, but unluckily, the match got away from us."

Mathews also challenged the young batsmen in the team to begin making sizeable contributions, after they have largely failed to provide adequate support to the senior men in the past year. Opener Dimuth Karunaratne failed in both innings so far in the series, and middle-order batsmen Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne used up deliveries and got out cheaply, after coming into bat in the late stages of the innings in the first match.

"We have not taken this series lightly, and you see that in the way we've played our best team. But our young batsmen - Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera - need to overcome the challenges they face. I think there is too much pressure on TM Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. Our four or five other batsmen must accept the challenge and play well. Our young players must look at our seniors and learn more, and take on more responsibility in the team."

*The second half of this story had initially been hidden, by accident

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

RSS Feeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2013, 15:23 GMT)

what a crazy decision by Anjelo mathews . TO use a spinner to ball last over .Earlier I said he is not a good captain .Still its the same .

Posted by Yousufahmed11 on (November 15, 2013, 2:17 GMT)

SLC should have used SL A team instead of the national team. Coz they beat the almost similar NZ A team easily couple of months ago both in tests and ODI. They had Milne, Devcich, Ellis, Munro, Elliot, Ronchi, Corey Anderson, Lathom which seem McCullum and Mills made ths difference. This is the high time to give the responsibility to youngsters.

Posted by wijeya on (November 15, 2013, 0:41 GMT)

for those who say we should give Matthews a chance. Can you please advise on what basis you feel he is captaincy material? Also, why cant we blame him? NZ drop their seniors even after a few injuries to others.We should have dropped our seniors I include herath as well to keep them for tests and blodd our youngsters. But no! Matthews is worried about losing a nonsense series to NZ B team. So we play our seniors and still lose with 1 game washed out. To add insult to injury we then have him putting us in to bat first in the middle of the bloody monsoon season. The first ODI was rained off, 2 days later what the hell was he expecting, I dont car the fact that D/L probably worked in our favour but everybody who knows anything about cricket knows you bat second in those conditions. He then decides to bowl a spinner in the last over, priceless. Do you still think he is captaincy material???

Posted by   on (November 14, 2013, 21:44 GMT)

@Ranil Fernando . you are saying "young players are paid and they are representing Sri Lanka. So they need to perform well" . Are they representing sri lanka sitting in the dressing room ? Are players love to be paid to do nothing . I think you are joking . What is the difference of winning or loosing for youngsters . Still we are loosing and we cant even beat India on our home soil .

Posted by   on (November 14, 2013, 18:04 GMT)

I can't understand why Thisara Perera didn't play in both the matches. I think he should be in the final match and we can use him as an opener with Dilshan. There's no point having both Chandimal and Thirimanna in the team. Let some other young player to play. @ Samith Suranjan - Losing series of matches matters to many cricket lovers in Sri Lanka. Don't be stupid. These young players are paid and they are representing Sri Lanka. So they need to perform well. Another thing I can't understand is that we are seeing same names. Aren't there any other better players in the country?

Posted by   on (November 14, 2013, 16:58 GMT)

If we score consistanly arround 300- 350 with our seniors it is ok . What are we doing we score a very average score . We cant even think about 350 . Thats why we need to have young generation who is fearless and creative . But unfortunately we do not give youngsters chances . Any one can argue they are not good as seniors . But we have to give them chance and develop them . Loosing a match or series or many series dosent matter for giving them chances. We have to develop our youngsters . So sad now we do both loosing and not giving youngsters chances .

Posted by marlon17 on (November 14, 2013, 14:32 GMT)

Just drop Sanga, Dilshan, Mahela... With New Zeland B team, no need to playe seniors.. N no point when they scoring 50s.. They just boosting thir averages.. my combination for 3rd ODI 1. Dimuth 2. Kusal 3. Thirimanna 4. Chandimal 5. Mattews 6. Ashan Priyanjan 7. Thisara 8 Kule 9.Senanyake 10. Suranga 11. Malinga/Mendis

Posted by   on (November 14, 2013, 13:53 GMT)

we need 3rd o.d.i s,l team mahela,dila,sanga,lahiru,mathews.chandi,perera,nuwan.senanayaka.malinga,mendis

Posted by nuji_lankan on (November 14, 2013, 13:52 GMT)

i cant say that it was mathew's mistake absolutely but eventually we lost the match coz of his poor decision by giving the bowl to a spinner to bowl the last over. but he was with limited resource in the last match which we all have to understand thats the reason why that decision has taken by him, but i hope we will win the next one and we will level the series in shaa allah best of luck to lankan lions just win the next game for us

Posted by Yousufahmed11 on (November 14, 2013, 12:40 GMT)

We have to accept that our youngsters are not playing up to the standard at the moment. If they wouldn't get to the form before big 3 retires, we will have a very bleak future. One suggestion is to use the youngsters somewhere up the order and play 2 of the big 3 down the order while resting one in each match. This will boost the confidence of the youngsters. These youngsters have a problem with lack of confidence rather than the talent. This can be seen clearly when they play in SL A team, they do perform well even outside home. But, in the national team, they are reluctant to get the responsibility and let the big 3 to do the everything. This has to be changed by giving them more responsibility within the team.

Posted by   on (November 14, 2013, 8:31 GMT)

talking about sangakkara is something like talking about sachin and lara at the moment. his profile is good enough to understand. last year test player of the year , people choice award which is clearly proven that most of the vote came from india. that clearly suggested how popular cricketer he is. his stats are terrific from past 3 years. in test at the moment arguably the best batsman in terms of average and consistency. many people doesnt know that he is 3rd highest double century maker in test after bradman and lara. and joining the list of those 2 great test players is not an simple task. considering his wicket keeping for almost 50 test matches. even MCC honored him for give speech in london. no wonder after his retirement we might see him being ICC member or after some more years being chairman. just because of his knowledge and the way he approach the game. he averages almost 58 in test cricket after played this game for more than 100 test. just salute and respect him.

Posted by andrew27994 on (November 14, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

The way I saw the match I think Herath can't be blamed for SL's loss. The blame has to go to Mathews and he can stop giving excuses about lack of experience. The fact that he never considered home weather conditions speaks volumes of his competency as a leader. A good captain like Dhoni always considers the weather conditions like dew, rain and even made a point about the new rule changes before CT 2013. Before that tournament, everyone thought he was making excuses in advance but at the end of the tournament, he was proved to be absolutely correct in his assessment.

Posted by   on (November 14, 2013, 6:49 GMT)

Ok Mr.Mathew all your talk about rain and,Spinners cant spin well all excuse were fine , but what about your captaincy giving final over to a spinner when spinner cannot get the grip due to the wet ball

Posted by Prema1948 on (November 14, 2013, 4:37 GMT)

at present. All three seniors should bat in the middle, if they still remained adamant to continue till the next WC, allowing future players to bat at the top to gain confidence even if we had lost few matches for the start. (Stats courtesy Cricinfo )

Posted by Prema1948 on (November 14, 2013, 4:36 GMT)

Country then. Therefore, everyone appointed since then, started to ignore all the quality players(Dravid's Trott's class) produced by schools on a regular basis and started bringing in henchmen instead. By the way, when the seniors were at the present age of Chandimal's & Mathews' 1st Cla Bat Ave 57&50respectively, the performances of the seniors were not that healthy, though some consider them as indispensable. When a player has been failed 5-6 times at a stretch, it's normal practice to drop that particular player instantly, but it never happens with these Jokers, if one had verified their career stats of seniors, one may learn that at times these seniors have failed 15-25times at a stretch. The batters whose success rate were 1 out of 5 or more innings played were allowed to represent the Country well over500-600 Internationals though some players of Dravids' class have never given even a single opportunity. It is this kind of cricket set-up we have in the Country2bCNTD

Posted by Prema1948 on (November 14, 2013, 4:35 GMT)

our Game too would have been on an equal footing as India, since we have a history on a par with India. This is a Country even a low grade Cricketer can represent the Country at the highest level, if he had determined to do so. Few years back, almost all brothers of a powerful unorthodox Cricketer represented the Country though we produce one or two AnuraTennekoon's,RoyDias', RahulDravid's, JhonathanTrotts' class players each year. It so happens because the J&Ps of last 20years or more haven't been competent enough to realize the importance of players with proper control over their skills to be employed as frontline batters. These unorthodox ideas were instigated with the 1st foreign coach (who himself was an Unorthodox batter) came to the Country after we received Test status. The biggest mistake this gentleman did was he had picked an unorthodox young batter that had no proper control over most of the strokes he played, at any stage of his career as the best batter in the 2 b CNTD

Posted by Prema1948 on (November 14, 2013, 4:35 GMT)

Most of the foreign fans that make comments in this prestigious website know only about our senior national players, basically due to the low grade media publicity that has been given to the Game within the Country. It is not so with other countries such as India. The players and the fans of neighbouring countries too are hugely benefited by the vast media network of India. If not for India (24-hour Cricket channels) the Game would have been almost dead in our Country. In India the Game & the Cricketers are being held at a very high esteem by the media, the politicians, the world renowned artists and its people. Though the right media culture only can educate and direct people on the correct path (it is what is happening in India at the moment), it doesn't take place here in our Country for the last 20years. For information of all Our Cricketers are mainly comes from West&Southern coastal areas of the Country, if we had a media network and culture at least 10% that of India, 2 b CNTD

Posted by NAYANADINI on (November 14, 2013, 2:52 GMT)

Errors are part and parcel of the game. Don magnify things. Mathews will learn from his mistakes. @blade runner. Brother i am a srilankan. We are a country who love and respect other nations. Even i don like you replying harshly to the provocations and inturn reprovocating. If we don mind those who degrade us,they will get tired and run away eventually.

Posted by   on (November 14, 2013, 2:34 GMT)

We need Sanga, Mahela and Dilshan in the team but not for the meaningless series like this. Even if they are in the team, onus should have been giving as many chances as possible to the younsters may be by rotating the senior trio. But it looks like seniors are more interested in scoring runs against the week NZ attack than the big picture. If SL continue like this, SL will be struggling like Pakistan without any new batting or bowling talents in two years time. Even NZ rested their key players.

Posted by   on (November 14, 2013, 2:04 GMT)

Hope Mathews learn from his mistake in 2nd match he is young there is more time to get good captaincy every teams captains are making mistake not only Angelo so do not Blame on him instead supporting

Posted by   on (November 14, 2013, 1:43 GMT)

sanga is the best batsman in the world at the moment.when he is getting older better he plays unlikely most senior players in the world. as long as he maintain his fitness and his golden touch he must play for sri lanka. so mates don't worry about sanga.

Posted by   on (November 14, 2013, 0:51 GMT)

lol at blaming the conditions when Sri Lanka had 60 runs added onto their score of the same amoutn of overs NZ were given.. Sri Lanka in 23 overs.. 140 ish.. NZ in 23 overs 200... Yes sri lanka had wickets in hand, but we all know dilshan and sanga make most of their runs normally anyway so who knows.

NZ made 203 in 23 overs... the blame lies fair and square with poor bowling, poor fielding and poor captaincy by Matthews. Trying to blame it on weather is ridiculous, NZ had spinners playing as well.. both devicich and mccullum are spinners and both bowled.

Posted by wijeya on (November 14, 2013, 0:00 GMT)

what exactly do the selectors see in Angelo Matthews captaincy capability that the rest of the world cant see. I hope they are proved right but the evidence so far is not there. On the field he make Alistair Cook's captaincy look inspired and then to bat first both times knowing the weather, what is he thinking?????? As to the Sanga debate, you have to earn your place in the team this fixation of blooding youngsters doesnt work they have to earn their spot. for a start I dont think Sri Lanka are doing Thiri, Chandimal any favours by getting them to play T20 and ODI cricket they should play tests and establish themselves there, there play is more akin to that format

Posted by   on (November 13, 2013, 22:25 GMT)

Er, Sri Lanka won the toss? so it was their decision.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2013, 22:24 GMT)

Kasun Arunoda Pathirana - he is not blaming the weather itself. He made a decision that was not based on the weather and he is blaming his poor decision. A subtle difference.

Posted by LankaGod on (November 13, 2013, 22:11 GMT)

Sanga has been a great servant for Sri Lanka but I think we need to move on from the three greats... Sanga, Mahela and Dilshan. As much as I dislike the Indian team, I can't help but think that their seniors in Sachin, Kumble, Dhoni nurtured juniors very well. The other day in the test against WI, I saw Sachin talking consistently to Shami. Ashwin sings Kumble's praise for his help with bowling. I have seen Virat Kholi, Sharma, Pujara etc credit Sachin with helping them with technical advice and confidence. Where is our next generation which can be compared to the current Indian lot? It's not looking good for the next world cup down under.

Posted by xylo on (November 13, 2013, 21:10 GMT)

I am not sure how a wet outfield lubricates the ball's passage. I thought that the balls were not water-proof. Shouldn't the balls become soggy, gain weight, and travel slower than normal?

Posted by   on (November 13, 2013, 20:38 GMT)

It was raining all week and the it was predicted it will be worst than the first day...so what crappy excuse was that you chose a team for a normal game of cricket..would like to know about the think tank behind this stupid team selection and deciding to bat first...

Posted by   on (November 13, 2013, 19:55 GMT)

pretty average gamble from matthews, considerering its monsoon season...

Posted by   on (November 13, 2013, 19:31 GMT)

our senr players are doing great job for SRI LANKA, specialy sanga but we need to change the our batting order chandi & thiri should bat at no.4 & 5 mahela at no.6 and replace kushal perera as opener with dilshan or bring back kapugedhara as opener

Posted by   on (November 13, 2013, 19:23 GMT)

OMG...what happened to Sri Lanka....they coudn't defend the total of 202 within 23 overs? hows their spin attack become toothless against NZ?

Posted by yuvi_gladiator on (November 13, 2013, 19:21 GMT)

@Blade-Runner is that why sanga averages 36, 38 and 36 in england, SA and india in tests. So he can only play on flat tracks so he is average at best

Posted by Perera32 on (November 13, 2013, 18:49 GMT)

@ joe232: Erm you want Sanga to retire? Sangakkara is without doubt the best batsmen in both limited overs cricket and test cricket mate. Angelo made a mistake but all the blame cannot be put on him. I don't know how Sri Lanka keep dropping Perera despite his incredible talents in all departments. Dambulla and Pallekele will help the seamers more, so I'm sure Thisara will be included.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2013, 18:41 GMT)

mendis can be replaced herath in this match and lankan missed a trick my dropping Tissara. He was missed in that last over too.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2013, 18:14 GMT)

Blaming the rain for the loss seems rather immature. It might have considerably brought NZ into the game, but they grabbed that chance with both hands. Which is pretty much to their credit. And they played good cricket when the chips are down. Sri Lanka was given a decent total to defend after the rain. If Mathews played his cards right, it would have been a different ball game. If he kept that one over of his for the last one, it would have given the advantage to SL with 20 to defend. Bowling a spinner with a wet bowl in the last over to a batsman like Nathan with 4 fielders outside the circle is an elementary mistake, regardless of the fact Herath is one od the best in the world at the moment. It seems rather elementary when you look at it. Hopefully Angi can learn from this soon.

Posted by dayada on (November 13, 2013, 18:09 GMT)

really dissapointed about the way our(sl) cricket is going. playing sanga, dili,mahela are good. But they're not helping youngsters. chandi & thiri have played enough international matches to get used to the international level but they are not showing any maturity, poor guys ,not getting the chance to bat up the order becoz our seniors holding them back.

pls mix youngsters with seniors, otherwise future seems really bad.............see indian side dhoni took the presure as a senior & let their youngsters to play freely, now they are taking the fruits from them.

Posted by Htc-Android on (November 13, 2013, 17:33 GMT)

Thisara should have been included in the team.

Posted by morgie1982 on (November 13, 2013, 17:11 GMT)

Isn't it funny when visitors know inland conditions better than hosts:P

Posted by   on (November 13, 2013, 17:11 GMT)

@Joe, I have to agree with you. But I think we need the likes of Mahela, Sanga and Dilshan right now more than ever. I think the strategy should be to give some new players the chance and drop the likes of Chandimal and Thirimanne. There is still over a year till the world cup and just enough time to develop a couple of youngsters in time.

Posted by Blade-Runner on (November 13, 2013, 16:47 GMT)

@ joe232 ; Why should Sanga retire ?? Is it coz he is getting matured like good wine unlike the seniors from other countries who get matured like bad curry ?? In 2013, he has already scored 1000+ odi runs at an avg of 79.00. Btw, who are you to make such a request from Sanga?

Posted by   on (November 13, 2013, 16:47 GMT)

With Thissara not playing we were a bowler short. Both chandimal and Thirimanne cannot play in this team unless a senior batsman is rested. Thissara must play. poor selection from Mathews, and poor rotation of bowlers letting Herath bowl last over.

Posted by Blade-Runner on (November 13, 2013, 16:37 GMT)

Mathews shouldn't be blamed for the loss. I don't think that any captain would select his team taking weather into account coz one can never predict those weather effects. We were obviously missing our 4th seamer n that cost us the match and fielders played safe to avoid injuries , which was the right thing to do as SL are preparing for a full tour against Pakistan. NZ were pretty lucky to get the full advantage of bad weather. Btw, Kiwis won't know what hit 'em in Dambulla. LIONS LEAD THE WAY !!

Posted by Sulaimaan91 on (November 13, 2013, 16:33 GMT)

Mathews is just following on the Mahela and Sanga rule 'cant control the uncontrollables' but at times you have to face reality, and in situations such as these batting second would have been more advisable.

Posted by Hummingbird0 on (November 13, 2013, 16:30 GMT)

Mathews thought he could fox NZ by spin like usual. This is a no-brainier not a thought provoking strategy. However, Lankans failed miserably. Just shows NZ is not in decline but its other way around. I won't be surprised if it happens because the likes of Sanga refuse to hang up the boots and the replacements of chandimal's, thirmmanne's are not good enough to be called internationals. It seems Srilankan team is in utter disarray with few glimmer of hope. Sad but its reality!

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