Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Hambantota August 27, 2014

Mathews defends off-colour seamers

ESPNcricinfo staff

Sri Lanka's batsmen have cranked up their consistency, with captain Angelo Mathews milking a purple patch that began last December. However their bowling has not kept up. Pakistan were unable to overhaul a target of 311, but they had exploited the hosts' pace attack to get off to a flier before the slower bowlers pulled things back.

Lasith Malinga has also failed to summon the usual threat he does. Nuwan Kulasekara's last ODI wicket was in May. But Mathews has cautioned against writing them off.

"We have to accept when we don't play well, and I don't think we saw the best of Malinga in these past two matches," Mathews said. "Same with Kulasekara. They've had a break from cricket, so you need to give them a little time to come back.

"I was a bit concerned we didn't bowl that well in the first 10 overs. Especially the lines and lengths were not that great and they started off brilliantly, getting 100 runs in 12-13 overs. But once the ball got older, the spinners started turning the ball and that was the turning point."

Malinga has cost over 6.5 to the over in his past three matches. His search for yorkers was persistent but unsuccessful in the first ODI which allowed Sohaib Maqsood and his bottom-handed thumps to take Pakistan over the line.

"We bowl him [Kulasekara] and Malinga in the death overs, which is tough. When they fail in one or two games, we shouldn't be too quick to criticise them, because they are very good bowlers"

Sri Lanka were able to compensate with Thisara Perera, who had posted a tall enough score and assisted with three wickets including that of Shahid Afridi when the equation was a manageable 88 off 58 balls.

"Thisara's all-round talents were a big influence on this game. He scored very quickly and then took three wickets. Usually we want our seven batsmen to score runs, and that's what we expect them to do. It's a bonus when the bowlers contribute, and Thisara batted very well."

Mathews himself has shouldered greater responsibility in building his side's totals and his solidity was necessary with Sri Lanka opting for an extra spinner at the cost of Dinesh Chandimal. The Sri Lanka captain came close to a maiden ODI century for the second time running, but again fell with his team requiring acceleration.

"I don't feel any extra pressure in the 80s and 90s, so I'm not sure why it's happening. Today I had to go for that shot because the team needed runs. The form players have to make sure they do what the team needs. In the next match, I could play differently. If you get a start, especially, you should do that. I did that today, and I'm happy.

"I haven't changed much since I started. Mentally, you learn certain things the more you play. We learn a lot from the seniors. Beyond the runs that the seniors score, they are very important to the team, because we've learned so much from them. But I think I've only changed my approach. I haven't changed the way I bat since I started."

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  • Dimuthu on August 29, 2014, 12:59 GMT

    don't write either of them off. the're crucial for SL's World Cup chances. those with short memories should go to the popular video sharing website and search for Kulasekara's work in Australia the last time we were down there. When his amazing 5 wicket haul when we rolled Aus over for 74. Bend it like Beckham 2 will be named Bend it like Kula! Unbelievable inswing at the Gabba. Btw, Malinga has become so fat! What a disgraceful belly for a professional athlete :)

  • Dummy4 on August 28, 2014, 23:49 GMT

    wapuser: Thanks. But it is a very difficult decision. Look at the way our test specialists are breaking down through injuries. I like Eranga a lot. But can he bowl at the death? He was clobbered by Bopara in the Champions Trophy and once by MS Dhoni in West Indies. On the other hand those two are among the best finishers in ODIs. I do not like (for some strange reason) Prasad. But he keeps on improving day by day and I think if he uses his head (which he does not do that at times) he can clear the fence with ease when batting. Lakmal is a good honest trier and is worth playing if he remains injury free. Pradeep is very much injury prone and may be we can leave him out. Whatever it is I will be there at Dambulla International Stadium watching the action from Grand Stand on Saturday.

  • udendra on August 28, 2014, 5:09 GMT

    At least Kulasekara can contribute with the bat, if he fails with the ball. But Malinga?

  • Mohamed Afulal on August 28, 2014, 2:16 GMT

    Like Mathew said they are coming after a break and need some time to gel and get the groove and take wickets. Kula always give 100% in every department. As for Malinga, he is a specialist bowler and that is his forte. Expecting him to bat and score runs is too much but if he can learn to stay at the wicket and give other batsman to score he has done his share.

    Coming to Mathews batting in Tests and ODIs, one can say that he leads from the front and shows the way. Mahela Sanga and Dilshan are stalwarts in ODI format. Their active participation matches leading to WC 2015 is vital to the rest of the team and in particular to Mathews since he is fast learner and need to pick up finer tips from the veterans before they fade away when they so decided enough is enough. Selectors should the veterans to play as long as hey would wish. Mathews has opined this in very unambiguous terms.

  • Dummy on August 28, 2014, 1:05 GMT

    @Priyantha Gunaratne: Excellent coment mate. SL might need to consider bringing in the test fast bowlers to the ODI team before its too late. People like Lakmal, Eranga, Prasad and Nuwan pradeep need to get some quality limited overs experience fast. Even prior to the last 2-3 matches, Malinga has been on the decline. Kulasekara has been an excellent asset but no one knows whether he'll come back or not. 0 wickets for 5-6 ODIs is not a joke!

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2014, 18:02 GMT

    It is not really blaming Kulasekara and Malinga. They have rendered tremendous service in the past. But we need to live in the present and look forward to the future. Kulasekara is not an express quick bowler. He is just about medium pace. When he is not getting any assistance in the air and off the wicket he has to be highly precise with his line and length. Sometimes even that is not sufficient. Even great Chaminda Vaas towards the end of his career suffered due to his lack of pace. In addition Kulasekara has lost his batting form. Malinga appears to have fitness issues. He is also down in speed. When he is down in speed his slower ball becomes less effective. These two have also started ageing. They have played a lot of cricket. They may or may not regain their old magic. Only time can answer that. There is no point in talking about past bowling heroics. We need to ensure that they will be effective in 2015 WC. If that does not look likely some hard decisions need to be taken.

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2014, 13:36 GMT

    Only few matches without wickets, haters stand up. Please don't forget how you cheered Kulasekara when he got wickets and won matches single handedly. He bowled well, did his best and gave 100%... What can you ask more? He along with Malinga are team players. Specially Kulasekara is also useful as a batsman and a brilliant fielder. Can't remember Malinga and Kulasekara's bowling in T20 World Cup Final against India? They every time delivered their best in pressure situations for Sri Lanka. And it is not easy to control the ball against the wind in Hambantota. Malinga wasn't 100% fit so sometimes couldn't get the yorker correct. They will bounce back in the next few matches and in Australia and New Zealand in the upcoming World Cup for sure.. Let's go Lions...

  • Isuru on August 27, 2014, 10:18 GMT

    how on earth he blame this guys they won lot of matches for country

  • Mohammed on August 27, 2014, 9:30 GMT

    Kulasekara last wicket in odi is not the champion trophy 2013. he took 3 crucial wicket in may 2014 during England tour below is the link. before analysing the report make sure your giving the correct information. kula is best bowling option nothing to worry.

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