By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews praised the effort of his bowlers for carrying his team over the line to win the second Test against the West Indies by 72 runs and with it clinch the series played for the Sobers-Tissera trophy 2-0 at the P Sara Oval.
“It was a hard fought win the batters didn’t deliver in the first and second innings and the bowlers were constantly under pressure but they carried us over the line. Credit should go to them especially and the fielding was also good,” said Mathews at the post-match press conference.
Sri Lanka’s series win comes on the back of two back to back losses to Pakistan and India and Mathews said, “It was a great feeling in the dressing room to win a Test match and the series.”
Mathews stated the difference in the two previous series and the present one was the agility and the fitness levels of the players. “We worked really hard in the past few months with the trainer on our diets and fitness at the gym etc. and the results showed.”
The real find for Sri Lanka in the series was the all-round performance of Milinda Siriwardana who won the man of the match award scoring 112 runs and capturing five wickets in the match.
“He is a great find for us he has contributed with bat ball and on the field. He’s been a brilliant player in the past couple of months in one day cricket and coming into the Test arena showed no nerves at all just cruised through with his batting and bowling,” said Mathews.
“His bowling also came in handy, we needed someone who can bowl a few overs but he is more than a part timer. He’s improved dramatically in the past few months with his bowling. He’s worked really hard with Piyal Wijetunga (spin bowling coach). The effort he puts in at the nets in unbelievable and he deserves what he got today. He’s had a brilliant match hope he will go from strength to strength.”
Mathews said that at the start of play they wanted to pressure on the West Indies batsmen by bowling good lines and lengths.
“The pitch from the very first day started turning so we knew that the conditions were only getting worse. We had to bowl in right areas. We didn’t start too well and bowled badly but we came back into the game after Milinda got a couple of wickets. Herath’s two wickers in one over to dismiss Darren Bravo and Denesh Ramdin was very crucial,” said Mathews.
“We knew the wicket was going to turn but we never expected it to turn from day one. It was a very sporty wicket but you have to fight your way through while batting.”
For the crucial no. 3 position Sri Lanka introduced 20-year-old Kusal Mendis and Mathews stated that he should be given a longer run to see how good he was batting in that slot.
“One game is not enough to prove it but he batted really well in the second innings looking to score runs, that’s the attitude you’ve got to carry on to the field. Even though he got a 30 it was a challenging wicket the ball stopping for the seamers and sharp turn with bounce for the spinners,” said Mathews.
This was Sri Lanka’s first Test series without batting legends Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Mathews said that it won’t be easy to fill the void quickly but added, “If we trust our players they will deliver. We have the personalities to do that.”