Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has admitted that his captaincy is under serious pressure after seeing his side lose the second match of the five-match series against Zimbabwe. The series is now precariously poised at 2-2 with the fifth ODI to be played on Monday. With the results not going his side’s way at home, his leadership abilities will likely be questioned thus bringing into repute whether he should lead the side at the ICC World Cup in 2019 to be played in England.
“There’s a lot of pressure on all of us, and as a captain there is a lot of pressure on me as well,” Mathews said after Sri Lanka lost the 4th ODI in Hambantota. “In these games, where our batsmen have done well, our bowlers didn’t perform well – both in this match, and in the first one we lost. Our fielding also hasn’t been good at times. Against Zimbabwe, we need to play better than this. If we score 300 and still lose here, there is a big shortcoming.” Zimbabwe had managed to chase down a reduced target of 219 runs after Sri Lanka had made 300 runs batting first.
“I don’t know if I will be going to the 2019 World Cup as captain,” Mathews said. “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. We lost these matches because our bowling wasn’t good. We have to solve this problem quickly,” he went on to add.
Sri Lanka’s record under Mathews since the World Cup hasn’t been all that bad. The side has won 12 matches and lost 15 in the 50-over contests but the only series wins have been against West Indies (home) and Ireland (away). But the series lost have piled up: England, New Zealand (away), Australia, Pakistan (home) and are now on the verge of losing to Zimbabwe.
Things could get even worse for Mathews and Lanka. Next assignment for Sri Lanka in the 50-over format is the five-match series against India in August and September. A convincing loss there and Sri Lanka could fail to gain automatic entry for the 2019 World Cup. Presently Sri Lanka are eighth in the ICC rankings with 92 rating points – ahead of West Indies who have 78 rating points.
“After scoring 300, how many times can you lose a game?” You know, we had enough runs on the board. [It’s] unfortunate the rain had to intervene, but still, we had the bowling attack to defend it. The first ten overs we gave away a lot of runs, also the rain intervened and the last ten overs we didn’t bowl that well,” he said after Sri Lanka failed to defend 300 runs for a second time in the series.
“We actually didn’t know the rain might come in, but the wicket was extremely dry this morning. So we all thought it’s going to start slowing more and more once the day goes on. We saw in the last game also that the ball started turning after the first 20 overs, in the second half especially. So, I thought if we bat first and bat well, we have the spinners to defend it,” he added.