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Mathews on Sri Lanka's exit: 'We've let the entire nation down'

Sri Lanka have not qualified for a T20 World Cup semi-final since 2014

Angelo Mathews issued an apology to Sri Lanka on behalf of his team-mates on Saturday, saying they were "heartbroken" to have "let the entire nation down". Their group-stage exit from the T20 World Cup 2024 was confirmed when Bangladesh beat Netherlands in St Vincent on Thursday.
Sri Lanka lost both of their completed matches at the T20 World Cup, against South Africa in New York and Bangladesh in Dallas, and had their fixture against Nepal washed out in Florida on Tuesday. Their early elimination means it is now a decade since they have reached the semi-finals of a men's T20 World Cup.
Their tournament has been characterised by logistical challenges. Along with Netherlands, they were one of two teams scheduled to play their group games at four different venues, leading their spinner Maheesh Theekshana to complain the fixture list was "so unfair". But Mathews, the most senior player in Sri Lanka's squad played down their impact.
"We've let the entire nation down and we are really sorry because we've let ourselves down. We never expected this," Mathews said. "We came across a lot of challenges but those are not something to worry about. It's unfortunate that we didn't make the second round."
Sri Lanka face Netherlands in St Lucia on Sunday night in a match that is a dead-rubber for them. Netherlands can still qualify for the Super Eight but are reliant on Nepal securing their first-ever win against a full-member team in Bangladesh, and also need to leapfrog Bangladesh on net run rate.
"We can't take any given team lightly," Mathews said ahead of Sunday's match. "We saw Nepal almost beat South Africa yesterday. It's unfortunate that our Nepal game was washed out, but it is what it is. We have just one more game in the tournament and we'll play for our pride.
"We haven't done justice to ourselves, especially the way we played in the first two games, so it's very unfortunate. We are heartbroken, and we are hurting so much within ourselves. But it's another day tomorrow and then we have to come up against the Netherlands, and the Netherlands are a very, very dangerous team. So, we hope to play well and beat them."
Sri Lanka came into the T20 World Cup after three consecutive T20I series wins since December and Mathews said it was frustrating to have unperformed. "That's something we regret because [with] the way we played Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh in Bangladesh, I thought we didn't do justice to our capabilities in this tournament.
"When you come into a World Cup, you can't take any team lightly but unfortunately, the way we played against those teams just before the World Cup, and then once we came back here and the way we played, obviously the wickets were quite different but we didn't do justice to ourselves."
Mathews, now 37, also said that on the personal front, he had made no hard decisions on his white-ball future. He has been a consistent presence in the Test side over the past few years, but had been dropped from the limited-overs teams until the current selection committee brought him back.
It is possible he will be available for the next T20 World Cup in 2026, which Sri Lanka will co-host. But it is also possible this match against Netherlands will be his last in T20 World Cups.
"I play every game as if its my last game," Mathews said. "Nothing in life is certain. I'm trying to do whatever I can for the team. I don't have big hopes about the next game, or the next series. I have some time to think about all those things and make a decision. From my side I haven't settled on anything. The selectors' opinions are needed, more than mine. I'm playing because of the love I have for the sport - whether that's for the national team or my club team."