Sa’adi Thawfeeq reporting from Galle
GALLE: Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews expressed satisfaction not only for his team’s innings win over West Indies in the first Test but for the form shown by his top order batsmen who finally managed to put up a decent first innings total for his bowlers to bowl the opposition out.
The absence of any such substantial first innings totals was the result of Sri Lanka losing their last Test series to India, but now in the first series without the two big guns Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka came up with a score of 484 which was sufficient to bowl West Indies out twice.
“We haven’t done that for quite some time and we did it after a long time,” said Mathews at the post press conference.
“We can’t keep talking of the past all the time and we’ve decided to take up the challenge and responsibility. It’s pleasing to see the way (Dinesh) Chandimal and Dimuth (Karunaratne) batted.
After Sangakkara and Mahela left the team, we needed those guys to stand up and take the responsibility. I’m glad that they did it.”
Mathews described the win as a “satisfying performance by the whole team”.
“We had some individual brilliance which lead to the victory. To start off with Dimuth, his 180 was brilliant and then Chandimal’s 150. They batted us into a position where we could hardly lose. After getting 480 odd, it gave the bowlers some cushioning to go out there and enjoy themselves,” said Mathews.
“Rangana was brilliant once again. We hardly can keep him out of the Galle Test. It was a collective effort. We batted, and we fielded pretty well apart from me dropping a couple of catches.
“I believe Rangana can play a few more years because he is also working very hard with our trainer and now he has reduced a lot of weight. We mustn’t look at his age but his performances. I accept the fact that other bowlers also should come up. If they want to achieve what Rangana has achieved, they need to work hard.
“The wicket was slow and turning quite a lot from day one and Tharindu Kaushal was pretty disappointing. He was not bowling at his best. We had three steady bowlers, Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Pradeep and Herath. The two fast bowlers bowled their hearts out. It’s not easy for fast bowlers to run in hard and bowl like that,” he said.
Mathews credited the team’s batting effort to stand in coach Jerome Jayaratne.
“Our new coach worked hard without a break in the last few weeks. He also worked a lot with the batsmen and the results showed the commitment,” said Mathews.
“If Dimuth and Chandi can bat as they did here, we can quickly fill the void created by the retirement of Sanga and Mahela.”
Mathews was however unhappy with the performance of spinner Kaushal and batsman Lahiru Thirimanne who again failed in the number three position being dismissed for 16.
“The two positions are bit of a concern. We’ll have to make that call. We wanted to go with Kaushal, especially on this wicket and it was a tactical move as well. We wanted someone who can really give a rip on this wicket. Unfortunately, he was pretty poor in this game. Hopefully he can deliver in the second game,” said Mathews.
“He’s still working a lot harder with Piyal (Wijetunge, the spin bowling coach). We just wanted him to bowl his off spinners on the spot. If he does that, he’s going to get a lot more wickets than with his doosra. He didn’t do that well in this game but he can keep improving. He doesn’t change his pace that much. The way he bowls, he’s going to get lot of wickets.”
On Thirimanne’s continued failures, Mathews said: “It’s a bit of a concern. He is having a bit of a rough patch and as a team we’re behind him. Hopefully, he gets the opportunity in the next game and I’m pretty sure that he’ll go out there and score some runs. But we need to have a chat with the selectors first.”