World Cup plans not affected, says Mathews


Angelo Mathews said Sri Lanka’s worst-ever ODI whitewash at India’s hands had not upset his team’s World Cup plans, and suggested the side was closer to locking down a World Cup combination, thanks to the series. The 0-5 defeat is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka’s ODI history. They have not been blanked by India since losing 0-3 in 1982, and their previous worst ODI series loss – a 0-4 defeat against Pakistan – had come in 1985.

However, as Sri Lanka had been light on preparation for the series, had missed several key players, and were playing in conditions they are unlikely to encounter at the World Cup, Mathews said his team was capable of moving past the drubbing.

“I don’t think the series will have a negative impact,” Mathews said. “We have figured out who our players are going to be. We wanted to try them out here because playing in India is always a lot of pressure. We wanted to know who the guys are, who will perform under pressure. We now have an idea. We just have to flush the defeats out of the system and take the England series on, and move on.”

Mathews had hoped Sri Lanka’s woes with the second opener’s position would be solved by series-end, but with Upul Tharanga, Kusal Perera and Niroshan Dickwella not having impressed in that position, the team is still seeking answers there. They have, however, moved closer to filling the lower middle-order spot that was available, Mathews said. Lahiru Thirimanne scored back-to-back fifties in his two matches of the series, and joined Mathews in putting up century-stands in both those matches.

“I’m extremely pleased with the way Thirimanne batted because we wanted someone who is solid at No. 6, and I thought he did his job in the last two games,” Mathews said. “All the batsmen got starts but I think we can still improve in all the departments.”Having largely laid blame on the batsmen’s shoulders this series, Mathews said it had been the bowlers who erred in the fifth defeat. Sri Lanka made their first competitive score of the series, hitting 286 for 8, thanks largely to a 139 not out from Mathews, but were unable to defend it against a Virat Kohli-led India batting unit.

“I thought it was a competitive game, we have improved from the last four games,” Mathews said. “It was a tough wicket to bat on, it was not coming through. But the batters had to dig deep, stay at the crease, get some partnerships and get a good score for the bowlers to bowl at. I thought we did that, but unfortunately the bowlers were a bit too wayward. “