‘This marks my fourth 50-over World Cup match. Our team and I are committed to giving our best performance, with the primary goal of reaching the semi-finals. I’m fully prepared to put in the hard work necessary to achieve this.’
Sri Lanka will rely on coach Chris Silverwood’s insights when they face his former team England in the World Cup, but the 1996 champions must be prepared for a battle against a wounded side, all-rounder Angelo Mathews said on Wednesday.
Silverwood was England’s pace bowling coach when they won the 2019 title and took the top job later that year, before he stepped down following the team’s meek surrender in the Ashes series against Australia in 2022.
The 48-year-old has since taken the reins at Sri Lanka and Mathews believes his deep knowledge of the England players could be the X-factor when the teams square off at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday hoping to revive their sagging fortunes.
“Obviously, Chris knows in and out of most of their players and we’ve had discussions about the team as well,” Mathews told reporters. “We have to play our A game to win against a strong English team.
“Even though they haven’t played to their potential, they’re a very dangerous team. It’s a good wicket, small outfield and we have to fight fire with fire because they’re going to come really hard at us and we’re up for the challenge.”
Mathews was not included in Sri Lanka’s initial 15-member World Cup squad, and was first drafted in as a travel reserve and then eventually joined the team as an injury replacement for Pathirana on Tuesday.
Offering commensurations to Pathirana, who returned home with a shoulder injury, Mathews said he was keeping himself mentally and physically in shape for any opportunity that might come his way.
“I haven’t played a lot of white ball cricket over the last three years. But I’m hoping to use all my experience and give it all out in this World Cup. I wasn’t expecting this call. But I was training very hard with other boys if I get the opportunity,” said Mathews.
The 36-year-old Colombo man was not particularly bothered about his role within the team, and said his focus was just to contribute to the side’s cause.
“Our top-order is quite settled. So, it looks like I’ll bat in the middle-order. But the position doesn’t really matter, as long as I can contribute in whatever way possible towards a winning cause,” Mathews said.
“I’m not really bothered about personal milestones, batting up the order and getting hundreds or fifties. I’d rather bat anywhere the team wants me to,” he added.
Mathews, who will be playing in his fourth and final World Cup for Sri Lanka, said the primary goal is to try and take the team to the semifinals.
Sri Lanka need to win all their remaining five matches to give themselves a chance to enter the last four stage.
“This marks my fourth 50-over World Cup match. Our team and I are committed to giving our best performance, with the primary goal of reaching the semi-finals. I’m fully prepared to put in the hard work necessary to achieve this,” Mathews said.
The Lankan cricketer, with 221 ODIs under his belt, said his focus will be to keep away from being emotional while playing his final 50-over World Cup.
“We are people with emotions and then reacting to those emotions is going to damage you. So, I try to keep calm and then focus on what I have to do and then obviously I can do the right thing,” Mathews said.
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