Mathews puts up brave face after defeat



A stunning 23-run defeat against Bangladesh on Sunday leaves Sri Lanka with the tough task of beating both India and Pakistan to make it to the final of Asia Cup. Sri Lanka failed to chase down 148 and stand-in skipper Angelo Mathews was offering no excuses. He put the blame squarely on his team for not playing the right shots at the right times.

"The run-rate kept creeping up. Once it hit the 10-12-run mark, we couldn’t really hit the ball to the boundary. So that was a reason for the collapse. Also the shot selection was not really up to the mark. Especially after the start we had got, we could have just milked it through but unfortunately we kept taking those wrong options."

"It’s just the way we played. We played really poor cricket," he said.

For Mathews, the task of defeating Bangladesh was made harder by the absence of key bowler Lasith Malinga due to a niggle. Malinga was returning from injury after three months when he played the previous game against UAE. After the game, he was visibly uncomfortable and stressed that it took a mighty toll on his body. Mathews was unsure if Malinga would take any further part in this series, further compounding their woes.

"On Lasith, can’t really say... It’s a fitness issue. He is struggling with a niggle and that’s why he didn’t play. The management thought it was wise for him to rest today but don’t really know about the future games.

One of the recurring themes in the Asia Cup has been the spotlight on the pitches found in Dhaka. The pitch used for the Bangladesh-Sri Lanka game was a lot less greener and Mathews felt that there was absolutely nothing wrong with it for this game.

"The wicket was a really good one. When you compare the last four games to this one, the wicket was really good. There were no demons in the wicket. It was hanging a little bit for the seamers, the cutters were hanging a bit but it was a brilliant wicket. There was nothing wrong with the wicket," he said.

With Sri Lanka boasting of batsmen all through their line-up, chasing a target of 148 shouldn’t have been a difficult one, felt Mathews and stressed that it was just down to poor shot-making in crunch situations.

"We had a really tall batting order. Up to (Nuwan) Kulasekara, who was batting at number nine. That says it all. We had Thisara Perera, Dasun Sanaka, Chamura Kapugedera who could clear the boundary easily. It was just that we let the run rate creep up in the middle period especially after the 7th over. It started creeping up and by the time we started trying to go for the big shots, we just kept losing wickets."

A brave face was all he could offer before shifting focus onto the games that lie ahead.

"We have to beat India and Pakistan to enter the final. It is going to be a tough goal. But we are up for it. It is going to be a turnaround. We have one rest day and the next day we play India. So we have got to try and change it around, be positive," Mathews concluded.


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