Angelo Mathews dedicates Sri Lanka's victory to their passionate fans
In the post-match press conference, he gushed, “After a rough, tough six to eight months, we needed that victory. In that time, there was a situation where fans were turning away from us. As cricketers we feel that, because when we play well everyone loves you. Even when you lose they may love you, but they are also disappointed.”
The 29-year-old added, “The best thing was to win this match for the fans. It's a great win for those who stayed with us and we thank them because that support means a lot. In the past six months, we as a team got a lot of stick. But that's part and parcel of the game. When we do well we get praised. When we do badly we get a bit of stick. I think we as players need to understand that.”
The victory was even more significant when considering Sri Lanka’s dire record against Australia in the longest format. Aside from being Mathews’ first win in 2016 over any Test-playing country across all formats, this was just the second time ever that they had beaten the Aussies in Tests.
From getting dismissed for 117 in the first innings, the Lankans rode on Kusal Mendis' thrilling counter-attack in the second essay to turn the tables on the visitors. Understandably, Mathews was pleased with the arrival of a promising batsman.
He lauded, “Especially playing his first Test against Australia and their very good attack, Mendis showed a lot of class and a lot of temperament. It was not easy to bat on that wicket. It was turning rapidly and their bowlers were bowling well and fast as well. The way he played, he made it look so easy. Most of us were struggling to get runs. The way he batted, I'm very excited for the future.”
Another positive sign for Sri Lanka was the stellar debut of Lakshan Sandakan. Complementing the guile of Rangana Herath, the chinaman bowler weaved webs around the unsuspecting Australian batsmen.
Mathews felt, “When Rangana is bowling, he is attacking but also contains. We needed someone like Sandakan, it was very pleasing to see him bowl his googlies and also the batsmen were finding it very tough on this wicket. He will take the confidence of this performance forward.”
With the second Test scheduled at the spin fortress of Galle, he hoped that Sri Lanka would sustain the momentum and seal the 3-match series.