Sa’adi Thawfeeq reporting from Galle
GALLE: Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews was left short of words to describe the astonishing turn-around of his team’s fortunes as they pulled off a stunning 63-run win over India in the first Test to take 1-0 lead in the three-match series at the Galle International Stadium.
“It was a great turnaround. We were down and out for the first three and a half days. With Chandi’s (Dinesh Chandimal) innings – it gave us some sort of life to come back into the game,” said Mathews at the post-match press conference.
“We batted really poorly in the first innings and didn’t give ourselves or our bowlers a chance to bowl well. First innings (Tharindu) Kaushal was brilliant. All the bowlers bowled their hearts out. Second innings was amazing. Even Nuwan Pradeep’s spell in the morning created a lot of pressure,” he said.
“It was easy for Rangana Herath and also Kaushal to come and bowl. No one really would have given us a chance to win this game it was a brilliant team effort. Overall it was more than India’s weaknesses, our bowlers made things happen. We bowled good lines and lengths.
”It was not an easy wicket to bat on. Even in the first innings – we played poorly. We were not positive enough. We kept losing wickets. We didn’t use our feet. When it came to the second innings we had nothing to lose. They had a 192 lead and we had to surpass it and get a good sort of lead. We had to be positive and take those chances.
“All the batters batted brilliantly. Chandimal was outstanding. It was amazing the way he batted. He took his chances. He kept sweeping and reverse-sweeping. He got us into a position single-handedly where he gave us a chance. The way Herath and Kaushal bowled was absolutely brilliant.”
Mathews said the win was a great morale-booster for his young team for the rest of the series.
“We all know that it’s a young team. We’ve got a couple of seniors in Herath and Kumar Sangakkara. Sangakkara is leaving after the next game. It’s a transitional period for us, but it was a great team effort. It gives us the morale boost to go forward in this series. We will definitely go for the kill in the next game,” said Mathews.
Mathews explained that after the poor batting performance in the first innings the batters got together and talked it out.
“We said we’ve got no other choice than being positive. We can’t play forward defensive all the time and more often than not it goes to silly point or short leg. We had to use our sweeps, reverse sweeps and be positive,” said Mathews. “That’s the approach we wanted to carry because there was no point just trying to hang in there anyway. We couldn’t have hung in there for three days to be honest. The wicket was turning that much. The bowlers bowled their hearts out and contributed whichever way they could. Chandimal made a real difference and the rest of the batters contributed however they could.”
When questioned whether his team played best when the chips were down, Mathews replied, “Sometimes individually and as a team, when we have nothing to lose, you go out and give it your best shot. That’s what happened here for us.
“We had to go out there and get 192 runs but not think about it too much – not think about a big lead. We just wanted a 150-100 lead to give our bowlers a chance at least. It was a collective decision. The approach was brilliant. I thought we just had to go out there and be positive. We just went for our shots and it worked.”