Angelo Mathews declared fit for India tour

Angelo Mathews will be fit for Sri Lanka’s tour of India in November, while Kusal Perera and Asela Gunaratne are also expected to return to the national set-up.

All three were unavailable for the recently concluded Pakistan tour, but will be welcomed back warmly following Sri Lanka’s recent struggles in limited-overs contests. Sri Lanka have lost their last 16 white-ball matches, including both ODI and T20I series whitewashes against Pakistan and India.

Their next assignment is a full tour of India starting with the first of the three Tests on November 16 in Kolkata, followed by three ODIs and as many T20Is.

“Angelo and Kusal Janith [Perera] have both recovered and they will be considered for selection for the Indian series. Asela Gunaratne is fit as well,” SLC CEO Ashley De Silva said.

Sri Lanka’s interim head coach Nic Pothas, who was speaking alongside Sri Lanka’s three captains for the Pakistan tour, hinted that after a string of such negative results change in personnel might be the best way forward.

“It’s pretty obvious what the mood will be like when you’ve lost 16 games,” Pothas said. “With respect to new faces, that’s a conversation that we need to have with the selectors. But I think it stands to reason that in any walk of life, when you’ve had negative results for a period of time you need to see some change somewhere.”

While Sri Lanka ended the series with eight straight defeats, they had started it on a much more promising note, becoming the first team to win a Test series against Pakistan in the UAE, since Australia in 2002. Pothas was keen to point this, as he stressed on the other positives derived from the tour.

“On the Test series, let me remind you that we made history,” he stated. “We did something that no other nation has ever done in the UAE. It tends to have been forgotten due to the fact that ODIs follow the Tests. But we have to give huge credit to the team and to the captain.

“Overall across the whole tour we can certainly glean a lot of positives. The fielding has improved out of sight and certainly was one of the shining lights throughout the month that we were out there. And the bowling as well was of a very high standard; the execution of the plans was very pleasing.

“Obviously, some of the batting didn’t go according to plan, but that’s the cricket world and other teams are allowed to play well. It was also one of the best bowling attacks in the world so it’s always going to be tough, but I think on the whole the series started off very well with that Test win. Certainly the attitude, the character and the fight shown by that team was very, very pleasing.”

The tour also saw a Sri Lankan team return to Pakistan for the first time since 2009, when their team bus was attacked by armed gunmen in Lahore. The decision to play a match in Lahore resulted in several players pulling out of the game, but also provided opportunities for several fringe players.

Sri Lanka’s limited-overs captain Upul Tharanga was among those that pulled out, which gave Thisara Perera the opportunity to captain the T20 side. Despite losing all three matches, Perera was full of praise for his young charges.

“In truth when speaking about the Lahore visit, it was a much changed team to the one we initially expected to take part,” Thisara said. “Even though it was a young side, when captaining them I realised that they were much more mature than I had thought. The support they gave, their attitude, as a captain it was a great help in terms of handling the team.

“The team didn’t have many players with international experience. Most were inexperienced, including me as captain. Nevertheless the players had the drive to play and win. Although it was a youthful side, a lot of them had experience playing domestic cricket. Their attitude was also right. That’s the attitude we need in the team. Although we didn’t perform as we would have liked with the bat, the bowlers did us proud.

“The second match, we had the match in our hands till the last ball, I think we lost the victory as we didn’t have the experience to handle it. If these players are given a chance they can do a lot more for Sri Lanka cricket.”

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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