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Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka’s lone warrior in quest for glory against India

Sri Lanka cricket team’s Angelo Mathews smashed a century against Indian cricket team in the second ODI in Mohali but he was limping towards the end of the innings, putting some doubt over his participation in the final ODI, but in the optional practice session, he put in the hard strides

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Dec 15, 2017 20:28 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times, Visakhapatnam
India vs Sri Lanka,IND vs SL,Angelo Mathews
Sri Lanka cricket team's Angelo Mathews during practice session for the third and final ODI cricket match against Indian crikcet team in Vizag on Friday. (PTI)

Sri Lanka’s contests against India in the last three years have been the stuff of nightmares. They have lost 11 out of 13 encounters against India, including two 5-0 whitewashes. In the current series, after registering a win in Dharamsala, the visitors were blown away by Rohit Sharma’s third double ton in Mohali.

The inexperienced line-up has pinned their hopes on Angelo Mathews, who gave Sri Lanka something to smile by registering his second ODI ton albeit in a losing cause.

However, there was some concern towards the end of the innings as Mathews struggled to run and was in pain. Heading into the deciding ODI in Vizag, there were fears that Sri Lanka’s talisman would be under a fitness cloud.

Practising hard

All the doubts of Mathews’ availability in Vizag were dispelled during the team’s free practice session on Friday at the ADA-VDCA stadium. The all-rounder bowled on the side wickets in the main stadium for 15-20 minutes. After the brief session, Mathews headed out into the training nets outside and had a solid 40 minute batting session. In the entire period, Mathews did not show any signs of discomfort.

When asked whether Mathews was fit for the third ODI, Sri Lanka team manager Asanka Gurusinha said, “Mathews is fit. He suffered from cramps at the end of the last game. However, he has recovered. He bowled and batted well in the nets. All our 15 members are fit and available for selection.”

Thilan Samaraweera, the batting coach, also said Sri Lanka have a plan to preserve Mathews so that he does not get too injury-prone. “The strategy is that he will not bowl more than five overs. We are bringing him back to full strength slowly. We are not expecting 10 overs from him. At the most we are expecting maybe two spells,” Samaraweera said.

Mathews the key

In the last couple of years, Mathews has been the key batsmen for Sri Lanka against India. In 2014-15, Mathews scored 339 runs at an average of 113, which also included his first century. In the 2017 series at home, the former Sri Lanka skipper scored 192 runs with an average of 48 while in the ongoing series, he has remained unbeaten in both games.

For Sri Lanka to secure their first-ever bilateral series win versus India, Mathews’ contribution with the bat and full fitness will be crucial.

First Published: Dec 15, 2017 20:19 IST