Former Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has advised his team to accept the challenge and play with freedom in the forthcoming ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup. The 1996 World Cup champions and two-time runners-up, Sri Lanka come into the tournament as the number nine ranked team. They have won only six of the 22 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) since January last year. “In a big tournament like this, you’ve got to play with freedom and embrace it, rather than putting too much pressure on yourself. Yes, it’s a World Cup, you have to perform well to win it, but at the same time you have to embrace the challenge,” ICC quoted Matthews, as saying.
Several players of their 15-man squad will be returning after some time on the sidelines, including skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, who until last week had not played any ODI since the last edition of the World Cup. “If you put a lot of pressure on yourself, it adds to your burden. But try and embrace it, look at it as an opportunity to perform, to do something better for the country,” he added. The 31-year-old, who led the team in the 2015 edition, had been in and out of the ODI squad in 2018 with concerns about his fitness and form. He has, however, overcome his challenges as he scored 64 in his team’s warm-up match against South Africa, which Sri Lanka lost by 87 runs. Mathews insisted that he is not at the World Cup to prove his place to anybody.
“Each game is an opportunity to better your own performance. If you do that, the team will benefit,” he said. Currently, Sri Lanka’s second most capped playing in the ODI cricket after Lasith Malinga, Matthews wants to pass on his experience to the emerging players in his team. “My ambition is to perform and be consistent. For that, I have to look after myself in terms of physical fitness and give my absolute best … and make sure I pass on my experience to the younger players so they benefit as well,” he said.
World Cup is scheduled to run from May 30 to July 14 in the UK. Sri Lanka will begin its campaign against New Zealand on June 1 at the Cardiff Wales Stadium.