Series win over Proteas, huge feather in our caps – Mathews


by Rex Clementine

Leading batsman Angelo Mathews says Sri Lanka’s imminent series win over South Africa will be a huge achievement after the hosts completely outplayed Francois Du Plessis’ side in the two match Test series. The Sri Lankans took a 1-0 lead with a comprehensive 278 run win in Galle last week and yesterday after setting an improbable target of 490, reduced the tourists to 139 for five. Sri Lanka need five more wickets to wrap up the series.

"It is going to be a huge achievement for us as we are an inexperienced side. Beating the number two team in the world is something special. We will enjoy that. But we have a job at hand tomorrow morning. The first couple of wickets are going to be crucial. If we can knock off a couple of early wickets then we can enjoy the victory."

Mathews was the captain when Sri Lanka were thrashed 3-0 when they toured South Africa 18 months back and he will take lot of heart in returning the complement. "It is always satisfying to beat the top team. South Africa has been a very good side for the past so many years and they are ranked number two. They are a good travelling side as well. Pleased with the way we have played so far. We have worked really hard. We look forward to wrapping it up tomorrow."

South Africa’s vice-captain Dean Elgar had reservations about his team’s preparation ahead of the series claiming that the practice game at P. Sara Oval was played on a flat track where the ball hardly spun whereas things were a complete contrast when it came to the Test series. Mathews hinted that Proteas were simply getting a taste of their own medicine.

"I remember in our last tour of South Africa when we landed in Bloemfontein, we experienced the same thing. The practice match wicket was nothing like what we got during Test series. It can be a tactic. Most teams do it. I am not too sure what happened here. It was a slow wicket at P. Sara Oval. It spun a little bit towards the end. It was not very flat, but turned a little bit. Our spinners took lot of wickets as well," Mathews explained.

Mathews praised the efforts of opener Dimuth Karunaratne, who finished the series with 356 runs with a century and three fifties and an average of 115.

"I have been with him since school. I know him in and out and he is a strong character. He doesn’t easily give up. The way he has batted in the last year or so has been brilliant. He was outstanding in UAE when he got those huge runs in both games. Once again he showed that on difficult wickets he can score runs. On a difficult wicket against India, he scored a hundred as well last year. He has been fantastic over the last 18 months. He has added a lot of stability into our lineup."

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