Mathews rues Galle collapse

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 00:29 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

ESPNCricinfo: Sports teams like to make clean breaks from bad results - to forget failure and renew focus on the future. But as in life, mistakes have clear consequences in cricket. As he reflected on Sri Lanka’s series loss, it was the poor outing in Galle that Angelo Mathews kept returning to. The 1-0 lead that South Africa had won there allowed the visitors to pull the shutters down and pursue a draw at SSC from as early as the second day. It was a dull brand of cricket, but an effective one. Sri Lanka had been set 370 to chase in the first Test, and were defeated attempting the target. In Colombo, South Africa had 369 to make in 127 overs, but they chose to defend their lead instead, and earned the result they had sought. “As I always said, when you’re playing the No.2 ranked team in the world, you have to be on top of your game,” Mathews said. “Especially in Galle - that first innings batting collapse - we couldn’t get close to their score, and that actually cost us the game. That one game cost us the series. We’ve always played really well against the opponents in Galle, and we couldn’t do that really well this time.” Discouragingly for Sri Lanka, it has been their first assignments at home in 2014 that have also brought their first series losses of the year. They had walloped South Africa in an ODI series in 2013, but were beaten on this tour. While the Tests were always going to be more difficult for the hosts, they had fancied themselves against a side that had not won a series on the island since before Sri Lanka’s cricket became fully professional. “Right from the start I said we need to be sharpen our games to win against them. Simply because we play at home and we know the conditions, they are not going to lose a game of cricket for us,” Mathews said. “We need to put a lot of effort and do a lot of hard work to beat them. Unfortunately they played the better cricket in Galle.” Both in England and throughout South Africa’s visit, Sri Lanka have yielded significant ground towards the back end of each innings. Opposition tail-enders proved hard to remove at SSC, with the likes of Imran Tahir and Dale Steyn batting for over an hour in the first innings, and defying Sri Lanka in their second. Meanwhile, the hosts’ last six wickets had fallen for 36 runs in the first innings. “We found it really hard to get the tailenders out, both in England and here against South Africa. They all can bat and hang around. With these conditions, their tailenders batted pretty well. We need to make sure that our bowlers are getting batting practice as much as they can, and get involved in scoring runs and hanging in there. If we can improve that part as well, we can improve a lot more.” Before then, however, Sri Lanka’s first-innings score had been driven by Mahela Jayawardene’s 165, with Mathews and debutant wicketkeeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella also contributing. Those scores had allowed Sri Lanka to achieve a position of dominance in the match, but they could not translate that into victory. “I’m happy with the way we fought back in this match,” Mathews said. “From winning the toss to building a decent first innings score - that was one of the best knocks I have seen from Mahela. He was positive right from the word go. Niroshan Dickwella looked very calm and composed. He is a great find and the credit should go to the selectors for the risk they took. The way Kumar Sangakara batted was another positive. It was a great effort.” Mathews also reserved praise for Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera, who between them, bowled 171.5 overs in the match, and at times seemed the only Sri Lanka bowlers capable of taking wickets. They shared 17 scalps between them. “Special mention to Rangana Herath and Dilrwuan Perera as well. They were unbelievable. It was going to be hard to dismiss them, but they came up with a solid effort. They played their hearts out and tried to win the game for us, but unfortunately we couldn’t.”

 Amla ticks all the boxes in captaincy debut

Reuters: Hashim Amla had big shoes to fill, literally and figuratively, when he took over the captaincy of the South African test team from Graeme Smith, but he has come through his first series in Sri Lanka having ticked all the right boxes. Amla said when he took over from the retired Smith that he wanted to take South Africa back to the top of the International Cricket Council’s test rankings, and it has taken him just two matches to do so. Monday’s nail-biting draw in the second test in Colombo, which handed South Africa a 1-0 series win, their first in Sri Lanka, has lifted the side above Australia to the summit of the world game once more. But perhaps more importantly it has given Amla the perfect start as the new leader of the side and will have silenced the doubters, of which there have been a few. “I have enjoyed the first two tests, everything about it has gone pretty well,” he said after the second test. “The players have responded brilliantly.” Amla led the side with intelligence and positivity, rotating his bowlers well and providing a second-innings declaration in the first test that was refreshingly early compared to South African sides of the recent past. It left Sri Lanka needing 370 runs to win in 120 overs and with the weather set fair, but Amla backed his bowlers on a wearing wicket and they proved him right as the tourists won by 153 runs. The team have been accused of being too cautious in the past and batting on when they needed to give their bowlers more time to take wickets. There looks to have been a change in attitude and it has already paid dividends. Amla prefers to suggest the performance was just more of the same from the past few years. “We have had challenges like this before and we have managed to do some special things as a team in the last two years, and today was another example of the characters we have in the team,” he said. The right-handed batsman failed in both innings in the first test, but when his side needed him to come good he was able to muster those famous powers of concentration, seemingly not diminished by the weight of captaincy. His unbeaten 139 in the first innings was all class, while no less important was the nearly three hours he spent at the wicket in helping save the test in the second innings. In all he spent four minutes shy of 11 hours at the crease in the game on a wicket that was taking prodigious turn from day two and against some of the world’s premier spin bowlers. His calmness, whether perceived or real, at the wicket, in the field or the dressing room never fluctuated with the fortunes of his side. This is not a man to panic, and for a side too often accused in the past of being “chokers”, that may turn out to be one of his most valuable captaincy traits.

 Malinga decides to play for Mumbai Indians at CLT20

Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning T20 captain Lasith Malinga has decided to represent the Mumbai Indian in the Champions League T20 2014 over the Southern Express team. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) today announced that Malinga has informed the SLC that he will be choosing to represent Mumbai Indians, his IPL team. Malinga had sent a letter on 15 July requesting permission to represent the Mumbai Indian in the Champions League T20. The SLC has discussed Malinga’s request at the Executive Committee meeting held on 22 July. The cricket authority said as per the Team Participation Agreement of CLT20 2014, the decision on which team a player should represent is the sole prerogative of the player himself and the Committee has allowed Malinga to take a decision on which team to play. “Accordingly whilst expressing Sri Lanka Cricket’s preference for Lasith to represent the Southern Express Team at the said event, the Executive Committee left this decision at his sole discretion,” the SLC said in a statement today. Lasith Malinga has informed SLC CEO Ashley De Silva that he will be representing the Mumbai Indians Team at the CLT 2014 which will is expected to begin on 7 September in India. According to the ESPNCricInfo, the board will receive $ 150,000 from Mumbai Indians, as the sum a foreign franchise must pay the home team of a player who represents the foreign side at the CLT20. The SLC will also receive a $ 500,000 payment from CLT20 for sending a team to the tournament.