Mahela can steady the ship: Mathews
Perth, Feb 7: Sri Lanka face off against India, their nemesis in the ICC World Cup 2011 final, for the first time since the big encounter at the Wankhede. Vice-captain Angelo Mathews, who had missed out on the World Cup final, told the media his side were prepared to take on the world champs in what was sure to be an exciting tri-series.
On behalf of the Sri Lankans, he wished World Cup Player-of-the-Series Yuvraj Singh a speedy recovery from his illness.
Excerpts from Mathews’ pre-match press conference:
On the preparation for the game against India
The guys had a good two days of practice and plus we are going to practice today. We are prepared for tomorrow.
On whether they had watched India’s performance in Australia and if so, the effect it would have on the upcoming game
They haven’t played really well in the Test series and that is a plus point for us which we can take to the game. But they are a different team when it comes to the one-dayers and as we all know, they are the current world champions and they can come hard at us tomorrow. We are up for it and ready to go.
On the areas where they can surprise India
We have got a few brilliant youngsters. I think they have come up really well in South Africa. We need to focus on our own game; be free and play our natural game. That’s where we come out with our best as a team and as individuals.
On India resting either Sachin Tendulkar or Gautam Gambhir
We are not concentration on any individuals; all eleven players are equally good in the Indian team […] We are just concentrating on them as a team and will try and do our very best tomorrow.
On the challenge of playing against Sachin Tendulkar
He is one of the best batsmen in cricketing history and I think playing with him is a great opportunity for us to learn. He is a very seasoned campaigner so there is a lot to learn from him.
On the many changes in the Sri Lankan team
[…] There have been a few hiccups lately but […] we are here to play cricket and we will purely concentrate on cricket and the game that we play.
On whether he was interested in captaincy
[…] I wasn’t looking to captain the country because I have got so many years ahead in my career. I always take it as a challenge; the vice-captaincy has been given to me to grow for the future […] No matter what the situation, I try and cope with it and try and give my best for the country.
On the changes in captaincy
[The Board] have been speaking to the players and they asked Mahela [Jayawardene] whether he wanted to captain [the side], steady the ship I think, and Mahela took it. I think he has mentioned that he is not going to captain for long. I think it’s the correct decision from Mahela because he is a very good [and] seasoned campaigner. He knows the game; he reads the game [well] so he knows what has to be done to steady the ship.
On whether Mahela’s decision would help groom him and plan for the 2015 World Cup
Of course. Playing with Mahela and [Kumar] Sangakkara gives us lots of confidence and boost us to try and fight out [tough] situations. They give a lot of support to the youngsters. We have got a great set of youngsters who are willing to carry the ship forward. We have got a very good future ahead of us.
On his bowling
I started bowling from the South Africa series so hopefully I will continue.
On losing to India in the World Cup 2011 final, the last encounter between the two sides
It was very unfortunate that I personally couldn’t play the final because I was injured. It was a great loss for me and the team as well. Losing a World Cup final, you are obviously going to get hurt. But the past is the past and we need to look to the series [ahead]. These are different conditions. It is not the subcontinent so we need to try and adapt quickly […].
On how Tillakaratne Dilshan was adjusting to not being captain
He is a great character [when it comes to] coping with pressure […] He is all ready and set to go tomorrow.
On whether the tour to SA was good preparation for the current series
Yes, we always talk about pitches in Australia where it’s bouncy and [the ball] seams a bit. We have been playing cricket in South Africa recently where the wickets are a bit bouncy and a bit pacy. We have done pretty well in the latter stage of the one-day series and if not for the Duckworth-Lewis [method], we would have turned things around. […] Hopefully we can adapt well to the situation [here] quickly.
On winning the Durban Test
We haven’t done it before so it was a great moment for us […] to win a game in South Africa.
On the competition
All teams are quite even […] The team that plays the best on that day will make the difference.
On Yuvraj Singh’s illness
It is a very unfortunate thing to hear and we have already issued a press release. Hopefully he will get better soon and we wish him speedy recovery and hopefully he will be back and playing very soon.
On known competitors India
We have been playing them for quite a while and yes it is great to be playing against the Indian team. They are a world-class team so it keeps you on your toes all the time.