World Cup 2019: Angelo Mathews wants Sri Lanka to ’embrace the challenge’

Sri Lanka’s Angelo Matthews has urged his teammates to not let pressure situations get to them and play with freedom. Sri Lanka, who won the World Cup in 1996 and were runner-up in 2007 and 2011, come into the 2019 edition of the tournament as rank under-dogs.

Moreover, most players are coming back into the ODI side after lengthy spells on the sidelines, including captain Dimuth Karunaratne who has not played an ODI since 2015.

“In a big tournament like this, you’ve got to play with freedom and embrace it, rather than putting too much pressure on yourself,” Matthews is quoted as saying by the ICC.

“Yes, it’s a World Cup, you have to perform well to win it. But at the same time you have to embrace the challenge. If you put a lot of pressure on yourself, it adds to your burden. Try and embrace it, look at it as an opportunity to perform, to do something better for the country,” he said.

Stating that the players are not new to conditions in England, Matthews said it was the occassion and the nature of the tournament that would make the difference.

“The biggest challenge will be in overcoming pressure situations,” Matthews is quoted as saying by the ICC. “Quite a lot of us have played in England and we know the conditions. But handling the pressure and the situations well is going to be the challenge,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka legend Mahela Jayawardene on Monday criticized former captains Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal by saying that both had become the victims of ‘cricket politics’. Soon, Mathews took to Twitter to respond to Mahela’s charges.

Mathews was the skipper of Sri Lanka across formats when Mahela announced his retirement in 2015 but since then the Lankan captaincy has resembled a game of musical chairs with Chandimal, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Chamara Kapugedara and lately Dimuth Karunaratne getting a chance to lead the side. The phenomenon has also coincided with declining results for the side in white-ball cricket.

Defending his role during the captaincy stint, Mathews took to Twitter on Sunday and agreed that everyone including Mahela ‘has their opinion’ while urging his senior to help the team ‘with his knowledge and encouragement’ during the upcoming World Cup.

“Thanks for the concern guys everyone has their opinion and mj (Mahela Jayawardene) has his too.suprised to see some of his comments while denying them my top priority now is the World Cup and I urge mj to help us with his knowledge and encouragement in this crucial time which will mean a lot Thankyou”: Mathews wrote on Twitter.


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