Reports suggest that former Captain of the Sri Lanka Cricket team Angelo Mathews will bat at the all-important No. 4 position in the Test line-up, playing a solely as a batman in the team.
Sri Lanka’s top all-rounder in all formats of the game, Mathews had cemented the no. 5 position in the batting line-up in the past with veterans Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara batting ahead of him. Mathews was generally entrusted with batting with the lower order and providing impetus to the Lankan innings. However, with the retirement of Jayawardene and Sangakkara, Mathews is now Sri Lanka’s best batsman and will reportedly be given the extra responsibility of batting at No. 4.
Sri Lanka crossed the 300-run mark only once during their most recent Test series against India this August, with the only batsman to make a mark in the series being opener Dimuth Karunaratne. Mathews himself had an ordinary series, making scores of 83, 2, 26, 36, 0 & 35.
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Sri Lanka claimed a historic series victory in the UAE in their most recent foray into Test Cricket, however, Mathews was not a part of the contingent as he was recovering from an injury. In fact, since August 2016 the all-rounder has missed 37 International matches due to injuries, which includes six Tests, 20 ODIs and 11T20s.
Of those games he has been a part of, Mathews has, more often than not, been unable to bowl due to various niggles.
Speaking to Cricbuzz on this he said, “It’s been a very frustrating couple of weeks watching from home the guys playing. But having said that, I had a good three years from 2013 to 2016 where I never missed a game. Eventually it took a toll on me. I have spoken to a few doctors in Colombo and in UK. The trainers have set up a programme for me and just need to follow that. I have been told to manage my workload. I had good chat with the selectors. Me bowling in shorter formats of the game, gives the side much needed balance, but perhaps not in Test cricket as there are few risks.”
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Sri Lanka will be looking for new combinations at the top of the order with Sadeera Samarawickrama likely to partner with Karunarathne to open the batting. Either Lahiru Thirimanne or Dhananjaya De Silva will take up the No. 3 spot with Mathews and Skipper Dinesh Chandimal set to follow at No. 4 and No. 5 respectively.
The first Test between India and Sri Lanka will begin on the 16th of November at the iconic Eden Gardens venue. After suffering a humiliating 9-0 whitewash across the three formats at home against the same opposition in August, Sri Lanka will look to make amends and in the very least put up a fight against the No. 1 Test team in the world.