Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne was extremely pleased with Angelo Mathews who got the key wicket of Nicholas Pooran in the 48th over of the chase and helped his team defeat West Indies on Monday (July 1).
Despite scoring 338, Sri Lanka were in a spot of bother when Pooran was going all guns blazing. West Indies needed 31 from 18 deliveries and had only one over of Lasith Malinga to negotiate. Legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay was not having a great day and that’s when Karunaratne turned to Mathews, who was bowling for the first time in ODI cricket since December 2017.
The 32-year-old didn’t disappoint and got rid of Pooran on the very first delivery and conceded only six runs in his two overs.
“Pooran was playing really well. Thing is that we had to get those two overs done. He put his hand up and said that he’ll bowl the overs. He did a fantastic job and that’s what I am expecting as a captain. Don’t think he’ll bowl too many overs in future but if needed, certainly he will chip in with a couple of overs,” said Karunaratne at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Sri Lanka are already out of the World Cup and Karunaratne feels his players haven’t been able to express themselves under pressure.
“Good win for us, gives us a lot of confidence. Players stood up at vital times and that’s what I’m expecting as a captain. I think we were putting pressure on ourselves (before today’s game) and weren’t expressing properly. Today, we did that and the middle order batted well.”
Karunaratne said that the idea was to bowl some tight overs to West Indies batsmen and make sure that the required run-rate kept getting higher and higher.
“Avishka was really good in his innings. We knew that they are a good six-hitting side and wanted to keep the pressure on, and increase the required rate slowly.”
Avishka Fernando was named Man of the Match for his solid century and the 21-year-old was “really happy” that his century helped Sri Lanka win the game.
“When I went in to bat, I am happy I did what was required of me. I am happy that the hundred was in a winning effort,” he said.
“They bowled really well to us. I am really happy that I got these opportunities and I have made use of them, and I will use them to take my game forward and developing my game for my country and my team.”