What’s the story?
Speaking to reporters after the fourth ODI against Zimbabwe where the 11th ranked side chased down a revised target of 219 in a rain-affected match, the all-rounder stated, “There's a lot of pressure on all of us, and as a captain, there is a lot of pressure on me as well. Against Zimbabwe, we need to play better than this. If we score 300 and still lose here, there is a big shortcoming. I don't know if I will be going to the 2019 World Cup as captain.”
Mathews laid the blame on the bowlers for losing games even when big totals have been posted by the batsmen and said that the fielding also needs to improve a lot if they are to be considered a good ODI side.
"Our batsmen are doing well, but sometimes there's no consistency in our fielding - we don't do well sometimes. But with the players that we have, we can win these matches,” stated “the 30-year-old. “We lost these matches because our bowling wasn't good. We have to solve this problem quickly."
In case you didn’t know...
Since the 2015 ODI World Cup, Sri Lanka has won 12 and lost 15 matches under Mathews’ captaincy but the only series victory they have achieved during that period have come against the relatively weaker opposition in West Indies and Ireland.
They have lost to England and New Zealand away and at home to Pakistan and Australia. And now are on the verge of an embarrassing defeat against Zimbabwe with the five-match series tied at 2-2 following Saturday’s loss.
They are also on the lookout for a full-time coach following Graham Ford's decision to step down from his role after the 2017 Champions Trophy where they were knocked out of the group stages.
To be fair to the hosts, Zimbabwe were benefitted by the rain interruption with the target being revised to 219 from 31 overs when rain stopped play after the 21st over with Graeme Cremer’s side at 139/3.
Following the resumption, Craig Ervine’s experience came to the fore in the run chase for Zimbabwe but Mathews felt that his bowlers should have done much better. He further lamented the manner in which sides were able to chase down targets on a consistent basis against his side.
Mathews is also concerned about the lack of options in the bowling department with injuries to Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal robbing him of arguably his two best bowlers at the moment. With Sri Lanka set to play a lot of cricket over the next few weeks, Mathews conceded that the fast bowlers will have to be rotated to keep them fresh and injury free.
While he received criticism from some quarters for his decision to bat first after winning the toss, Mathews said that the team management felt that the surface was going to assist the spinners in the second half of the game – something which went out of the equation when the rain came pouring down.
The Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota will be the venue for the ODI series as well before the attention shifts to the longest format of the game for the one-off Test match.
Sri Lanka’s next assignment at home will be the series against India and will feature three Test matches, five ODIs, and a T20I.
Extra Cover: Sri Lanka announce home series against India
Despite Sri Lanka’s surprise win over India at the 2017 Champions Trophy, the Islanders are no longer considered a top side and with them being just four points ahead of West Indies in the race for an automatic qualification spot for the 2019 World Cup, the team is in desperate need of reinforcements, especially in the bowling department.