Veteran all-rounder Angelo Mathews on Tuesday said Sri Lanka need to be ready for a desperate England onslaught, and urged his teammates to fight fire with fire. Sri Lanka will face defending champions England here on Thursday in a World Cup match that is a must-win for both the sides. “We have to play our A game to win against a strong English team. Even though they haven’t played to their potential, they are a very dangerous team. They can hurt us badly.
“It’s a good wicket, small outfield, and we have to fight fire with fire because they’re going to come really hard at us and we are up for the challenge,” said Mathews, who came in as a replacement for injured pacer Matheesha Pathirana, during the pre-match press conference.
Mathews was not included in Sri Lanka’s initial 15-member World Cup squad, and was first drafted in as a travel reserve and then eventually joined the team as an injury replacement for Pathirana on Tuesday.
Offering commensurations to Pathirana, who returned home with a shoulder injury, Mathews said he was keeping himself mentally and physically in shape for any opportunity that might come his way.
“I haven’t played a lot of white ball cricket over the last three years. But I’m hoping to use all my experience and give it all out in this World Cup. I wasn’t expecting this call. But I was training very hard with other boys if I get the opportunity,” said Mathews.
The 36-year-old Colombo man was not particularly bothered about his role within the team, and said his focus was just to contribute to the side cause.
“Our top-order is quite settled. So, it looks like I’ll bat in the middle-order. But the position doesn’t really matter, as long as I can contribute in whatever way possible towards a winning cause,” Mathews said.
“I’m not really bothered about personal milestones, batting up the order and getting hundreds or fifties. I’d rather bat anywhere the team wants me to,” he added.
Mathews, who will be playing in his fourth and final World Cup for Sri Lanka, said the primary goal is to try and take the team to the semifinals.
Sri Lanka need to win all their remaining five matches to give themselves a chance to enter the last four stage.
“This marks my fourth 50-over World Cup match. Our team and I are committed to giving our best performance, with the primary goal of reaching the semifinals. I’m fully prepared to put in the hard work necessary to achieve this,” Mathews said.
The Lankan cricketer, with 221 ODIs under his belt, said his focus will be to keep away from being emotional while playing his final 50-over World Cup.
“We are people with emotions and then reacting to those emotions is going to damage you. So, I try to keep calm and then focus on what I have to do and then obviously I can do the right thing,” Mathews said.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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