India tour preparation ‘not that great’, admits Angelo Mathews

Sri Lanka have never won a bilateral ODI series in India

Sri Lanka have never won a bilateral ODI series in India

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has admitted that his side’s preparation for the upcoming ODI series against India is “not that great”.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) managed to convince Sri Lanka to travel to India for a five-match ODI series after the West Indies pulled out midway through their tour of the country.

“The preparation for the series is not that great, we only had a few practice sessions especially with the weather interrupting,” Mathews said. “It is not the ideal preparation for an Indian tour but we will do our best to prepare ourselves and take it as it comes.”

Mathews also noted that the team’s physical training sessions, which were being done in preparation for their home series against England in November, has been interrupted due to this tour.

“We had a good break to improve our physical fitness; a good month and a half fitness session, and now we have to maintain that fitness,” Mathews said. “I am sure during the Indian matches we won’t be able to do strenuous training as we did in the past one and a half months, but we will try and maintain it and look at it positively.

“We were preparing for the England series because we knew that there weren’t any tours coming before that. We were focused on a lot on fitness and we just started batting three days ago. We only had a few skill-training sessions. We needed to reach our peak levels during the England series but now that we’ve been thrown into a challenge we will try our best to be prepared as much as we can.”

Sri Lanka will travel to India on October 28 and play a warm-up match against India A on October 30 before the first ODI gets underway in Cuttack on November 2.

“We will try to use the series to keep our momentum going as well as try and get our World Cup combinations right, that will be our main focal point,” Mathews said. “Our World Cup preparations started from the Pakistan series. I need to make sure I get the team right before the series in New Zealand. The confidence level of the team is also pretty crucial as we move into the last few months of the World Cup but then again we need to look at our options and get the combinations right as well.”

Mathews also pointed out that this tour is a chance for younger players like Niroshan Dickwella and Ashan Priyanjan to make a name for themselves ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

“We still haven’t decided on our combination but all 15 are candidates to make it to the final 11,” Mathews said. “The main idea is to look at the younger players as well. Niroshan is a really good player so we want to try him out.”

It is also understood that Dickwella is likely to be Sri Lanka’s wicketkeeper throughout the series since Kumar Sangakkara is nursing a back injury.

“Sanga is having a small disc problem in his back, he was complaining of it, but it’s nothing serious, he was getting better every day so hopefully he will be okay,” Mathews said. “We might have to monitor him in the next few days, if he can he will keep otherwise we will have to play Dickwella.”

When asked about the decision to include uncapped pace bowler Lahiru Gamage in the ODI squad, Mathews said: “Champaka Ramanayake (from the coaching department) has recommended Lahiru because he has been working with him a lot and playing in A team matches and performing really well. We been hit by a few injuries so we want to see how Lahiru performs at top level. It’s a really good tour to prove himself, it’s going to be tough. He is a seamer who bowls around mid 130s and gets in those yorkers as well. India is a tough tour and we all know that. He will find it difficult to bowl there but I am sure he will do well.”

Mathews finished off by saying that Sri Lanka cannot afford to take things easy just because India have decided to rest captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the first three ODIs.

“Dhoni is a great strength to the Indian team and if he is rested we have a very good chance but we still cannot be complacent because we all know that India is a difficult place to play cricket,” he said. “We had bad experiences in the past. We will try and play positive and good cricket to win against them.”

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