5 of the biggest lows for Sri Lanka under Angelo Mathews

Mathews was the youngest to become the Sri Lankan skipper at the age of 25
Umaima Saeed

After Mahela Jayawardene quit as the captain of Sri Lanka, Angelo Mathews, at the age of 25, became the youngest captain to lead the country. The 30-years-old, in his four years at the helm, led the islanders to their maiden Test series win in England in 2014 and also whitewashed Australia 3-0 in a Test series at home.

However, since World Cup 2015, they have not been able to get going in limited-overs-cricket. They lost the home series to Pakistan, Australia and the most shocking of all – Zimbabwe.

Mathews became the first Sri Lankan skipper to lose a home series to the 11th ranked Zimbabwe, which led to severe scrutiny over his leadership qualities and prompted him to think over his future as the captain of the team, especially with the 2019 World Cup less than only two years away.

Dinesh Chandimal will now lead the side in Tests, while Upul Tharanga in limited-overs-cricket. With due respect to Mathew’s highs as the captain, here’s a quick recap of the biggest lows for the team under him.

#5 Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2015

Pakistan whitewashed Sri Lanka in the T20 series

Pakistan toured Sri Lanka to play three Tests, three ODIs and two T20s. The hosts lost the Test series 1-2, the ODI series 2-3 and were whitewashed in the T20 series. Pakistan outplayed Sri Lanka in all the three facets of the game, in all the three formats.

Mathews’s captaincy was largely questioned during this series, he made unpopular calls that never worked, made untactful bowling choices and never had a plan B to deploy when the plan A failed.

Inconsistency was Sri Lanka's bane throughout the series in all the formats, which reflected in the scorecard. The Sri Lanka batsmen consistently struggled to convert their good starts into big scores and Mathews was also not up to the mark with the bat.

#4 Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2017

South Africa whitewashed Sri Lanka earlier this year in an ODI and Test series

Sri Lanka visited South Africa earlier this year to play three Tests, three T20s and 5 ODIs, and returned home with only two wins from the total 11 games. They were whitewashed in the ODI and Test series and won the T20 series 2-1.

A lot of criticism about Sri Lanka's preparation ahead of the series had also cropped up. The tourists played a solitary warm-up game in Potchefstroom where the pitch looked similar to home, but the Tests were played on green turfs.

Sri Lanka's batsmen failed to click throughout. In the Test series, only three half-centuries were made by the visitors. While the batting bettered towards the end of the ODI series with centuries from Upul Tharanga and Asela Gunaratne, Sri Lanka had already lost the series by then.

#3 Sri Lanka vs Australia 2016

Australia whitewashed Sri Lanka in a T20 series last year

Australia toured Sri Lanka last year to play 5 ODIs, 3 Tests and 2 T20s. although the hosts won the Test series 3-0, they were whitewashed in the T20 series and could win only one out of the 5 ODIs.

Although Sri Lanka had depth in their batting line-up, the constant failure of the top order in the ODI and T20 series allowed the visitors to thrash them time and again. The energy and zest which was also so characteristic of the Sri Lankan team during Mahela Jayawardene’s helm was conspicuously missing.

Various chances were grassed, and the bowlers and batsmen both lacked confidence.

#2 ICC Champions Trophy 2017

Sri Lanka lost to Pakistan in the group stage of the Champions Trophy 2017

After having managed to reach the virtual qualifier of the tournament, for which Pakistan awaited them at Cardiff, Sri Lanka put up a totally undisciplined performance to miss what was their best chance to prove their ODI credentials. After being put in to bat first, Sri Lanka put up an insufficient 236 on the board.

The middle order provided little to no support to Niroshan Dickwella and Angelo Mathews, as Mohammed Amir and Junaid Khan’s lethal, unplayable spell troubled the batters. And when it was time to defend the total, Azhar Ali was dropped on zero, from which the opener went on to score 34, while Fakhar Zaman registered a half-century in only his second international game.

However, wickets suddenly fell one after the other and Pakistan soon found themselves at 162/7. But Captain Sarfraz Ahmed stood up for his troop and played a fearless brand of cricket. He scoring a 79-balls 61, but on the back of a dropped catch by Seekkuge Prasanna.

Sri Lanka literally dropped catches like millionaires to appear as though they wanted to script their own loss.

#1 Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe 2017

The series defeat against Zimbabwe prompted Mathews to relinquish his captaincy

The humiliating 2-3 home series loss to Zimbabwe was "one of the lowest points" of Mathews career.

"It's one of the lowest points in my career, and a hard one to swallow. Everything went against us, from the toss to misreading the wicket. But there are no excuses. At the end of the day we were not good enough to beat them. They played better cricket."

Graeme Cremer's troop had not got the better of a Test-playing nation away from home for the past 16 years until this historic win. Despite losing six wickets for 38 runs in the fifth and deciding ODI, they managed to overhaul Sri Lanka's insufficient 203-8 to mark Angelo’s last match as the captain of the team.

Also Read: Quo Vadis, Sri Lanka?

Edited by Staff Editor


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