Kolkata: Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal on Wednesday confirmed that their senior most batsman Angelo Mathews will bat at the important number four position in the first Test against India beginning here.
“He gives us confidence as a batting unit. He will bat at number four. He has all the experience and at the top of the order and we will get maximum out of it," Chandimal said on the eve of the opening Test against India at the Eden Gardens.
Mathews is yet to score a Test hundred since August 2015 and in that phase he has aggregated 917 runs in 32 innings at 28.65 with his overall average slipping to 44.93 from 52.06. Incidentally his last hundred came against India — a knock of 102 in Colombo in August.
“We are looking forward to his experience. He was unbelievable in 2013-14. Hope he will put his hands up and do best." Having missed the entire Pakistan series because of a calf injury, Mathews is back in action, albeit only as a batsman.
“We will miss Mathews as a bowler as he gives us more confidence and can balance the side really well. Unfortunately with his injury he can’t bowl in Tests." Playing their first Test in India since 2009, Sri Lanka will also eye a maiden win in the longer format as they have lost 10 matches and drawn the remaining six in the country.
The Eden Gardens has a greentop on offer and Chandimal hoped their batsmen and bowlers would make best use of it. “In our last series here, we played really good against their seamers. We are confident to play on the grassy conditions and bouncy pitches.
“We are more than capable of playing in this kind of conditions. We need to get a good start, especially the top four and then we can continue," he said. India had whitewashed them 9-0 across three formats not so long ago and Chandimal said they learnt their lessons the tough way.
“They have been outstanding. They have done a lot of hardwork, on and off the field. They are really good as a team in every format. They look really balanced." “We all know India are the number one side at the moment in Tests. They have played some really good cricket last two years. It was a tough series in Sri Lanka and as a team we have learnt a lot from that time."
Sri Lanka bounced back from the bitter memories back home to surprise Pakistan 2-0 in Tests in UAE. “We just need to get positives of the last series. We are more confident after winning against Pakistan."
Asked about their recipe of success against Pakistan, he said: “We just tried to play five bowlers, as a good team you need 20 wickets to win a match. Then fielding is one area we are looking at and keep our energies up for five days.
“The weather was really hot in UAE, we used five bowlers… Here we saw the pitch yesterday, it looked green and hard. Maybe, the seamers will come into play in this game. A deep depression in Bay of Bengal is causing a lot of rainfall since last night as it may affect the match with more rain forecast in next 48 hours.
“You can’t control the weather. As a team we have a good gameplan, we have something up our sleeves. We are coming tomorrow here to play the game without thinking about the weather. If it rains we will change the gameplan and go forward."