Wednesday, 08 August 2018 09:30

Winning last two ODIs vital for Asia Cup preparations - Mathews

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PALLEKELE, Tuesday: With the five-match ODI series already lost Sri Lanka will try to salvage something from the wreck when they take on the high riding South Africans in the fourth match at the Pallekele International Stadium today.

However apart from the South Africans who have been dominant so far in the series there is now the threat of rain around that could foil Sri Lanka’s chances of turning it around. Both teams were confined to practice in the indoor nets yesterday as there was intermittent rain from morning that kept the ground staff busy throughout the day as they tried to prepare the pitch for today’s contest.

Quinton de Kock who will lead South Africa in the last two ODIs batting at the indoor nets at Pallekele International Stadium yesterday.
South Africa certainly will be without their captain Faf du Plessis who has been ruled out of the rest of the tour with a shoulder injury and they are likely to give some of the players who have not had a game so far in the series by resting some of their seniors.

Under the circumstances Sri Lanka will be looking to seize the opportunity to squeeze out a much needed win which is long overdue having lost 11 ODI matches on the trot to South Africa since July 2014 at Hambantota.

Sri Lanka are not looking to make any big changes to their side as they want to give continuity to the players and as skipper Angelo Mathews pointed out they want to continue with a process they have began by preparing good batting tracks.

“We started off something from the last game and we need to move forward day in day out. We will learn when we play on good wickets the bowlers and the batters will get exposed that is something that we have to deal with. It is something that we have to get better at,” said Mathews at the pre-match press conference. “We will continue to do what we have planned not shoving it away after one or two games this is a process and the guys will definitely learn going forward.”

Sri Lanka are not looking at making too many changes to the team as they want continuity.

“We have an opportunity to try a few combinations but at the same time continuity is also something that we are looking forward to with the same player playing going forward as we need to understand their roles and strengths,” said Mathews who will be playing in his 200th ODI today. He will be the 14th Sri Lankan cricketer to achieve this milestone.

“We will try to give opportunities to whoever who has not played so far but unfortunately I don’t think we will be able to give everyone the opportunity. This is a learning process and we need to keep the same player as much as we can. We believe that playing on these wickets will certainly improve our cricket.

“Now the team is beginning to understanding what is expected of them playing on good wickets. It’s important to win games as well. We will try our very best to win the next two games it’s important before the Asia Cup and the England series,” he said.


Wicket-keeper/batsman Quinton de Kock has been entrusted with the captaincy to lead South Africa in the last two ODIs against Sri Lanka with JP Duminy to captain them in the one-off T20 International.

Coach Ottis Gibson confirmed that South Africa would be doing changes to their team now that they have secured the series.

“The intention from the outset was to take a look at other players we have two games and we have that opportunity.

Obviously we have won the series and now we have the opportunity to look at a few more guys. We have not finalized who we are going to look at in the fourth ODI, but I am pretty sure we will make some changes,” said Gibson.

“Clearly we played better in ODIs than we did in the Tests.

We didn’t bring too much baggage from the Test series to the ODIs. We came here with a clear understanding what we want to achieve as a team. We brought here a pretty inexperienced bowling attack and they have stood up very well to the task. Good to see some seniors getting into runs again,” Gibson continued.

“We have played pretty much the way we wanted to play. We were very clear to achieve what we wanted to achieve.

The last ten ODIs have been about getting ourselves ready for the World Cup. Faf (du Plessis) has gone from three to four and Reeza Hendricks has come and done very well at number three. We have left at home Imran Tahir in order to look at another spinner and Shamzi who has done well.

We still have to look at Keshav Maharaj who is our number one Test spinner. We have answered a lot of questions but there’s lot more we could do,” he said.

Gibson said winning the series 5-0 was no big deal for South Africa because their priorities are a lot higher than that.

“We want to keep improving as a team. We brought a young and inexperienced team. I suppose we didn’t expect to win 5-0. But we have the opportunity and I can assure you that we will be trying to. We still have our priorities a lot higher than winning 5-0. Our priorities are giving other players an opportunity,” Gibson said.

(Daily News)

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