We are happy to enter the tournament as underdogs: Angelo Mathews

We are happy to enter the tournament as underdogs: Angelo Mathews

Mathews was happy with Malinga's fitness and said he can win a game for the side on his own on a given day.

Angelo Mathews News
Sri Lanka cricket team captain Angelo Mathews. (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

Sri Lanka hasn’t had the perfect time in the ODI format this year as they have lost 6 out of the 8 games they have played this year so far. They enter the ICC Champions Trophy with their side low on confidence. They have been joint winners of the tournament but that happened more than a decade ago in 2002.

ICC Champions Trophy is a tough format as one blip could well knock out a team from the competition. Sri Lanka have been preparing for the ICC event in England but their preparation received a major jolt when their side suffered a shock defeat against Scotland in one of the warm-up games. The Islanders vindicated themselves by winning their next practice game against the same side. Their captain Angelo Mathews acknowledged that his team starts the tournament as the underdogs but they don’t mind the tag.

“All the teams are quite even, I think in the past few months we have had a few lapses here and there. Nobody will give us a chance, to be really honest, but we are happy to enter the tournament as underdogs,” Mathews said in his pre-tournament presser on Thursday.

Sri Lanka have made it to the semi-finals once post their victory in 2002. They are placed in a very tough group alongside fellow Asian teams India and Pakistan alongside South Africa. Mathews backed the talent available in the squad and mentioned that it is a question of committing fewer mistakes on the day.

“We are confident, we have prepared extremely well. In Sri Lanka and England for the past few days, it’s been really good. All the teams are quite even but it’s on the given day, the guys who make less mistakes will win. It can be England, it can be us, it can be anyone. Everyone has got a chance, no one can write anyone off and I’m sure it will be a very exciting tournament.”

Mathews pointed out their success during the England tour of 2014. Since then their side has gone under major revamp post the retirement of legendary batsmen Jayawardene and Sangakkara. Mathews still backed his side by saying that they need to go out there and express themselves.

“We are a team where we stick to our basics. We’ve played pretty well in England, especially in 2014, so we will try to take a leaf out of it. We are a pretty young, inexperienced team, but a few of us have played in England. Anyone can change a game at any given stage. We have got the talent, the skill in the team, it’s just that we have to go out there and express ourselves.”

Malinga returns to the ODI set-up

After fighting a number of injuries, Lasith Malinga is fit to walk back in the ODI arena. The star bowler hasn’t appeared in a single ODI post November 2015 but Mathews is not worried about his form as he is coming back from a decent IPL where he showed signs of his own-self.

“(Malinga) is fully fit. We look forward to utilising him in the matches. He got here a few days back. He’s very keen to get on the park. He hasn’t played 50-over games in the recent past but he has played a lot of games in the IPL which is very intense.”

After having an ordinary season in the first half of the IPL, Malinga rose to the occasion during the playoffs as he bowled with good rhythm which must have given the veteran of 191 ODI’s a lot of confidence.

“He’s been doing a lot of training as well. He is confident, we are confident as well. We all know he is a match winner, he has proven himself over the past many years. He can win us a game single-handedly, so we are looking forward to it.”

After playing another set of two warm-up games against Australia and New Zealand on Friday and Tuesday respectively, Sri Lanka will start their Champions Trophy campaign against South Africa on June 3 atKennington Oval in London.