Identifying the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) organized Asia Cup as the mega showpiece of Asian cricket that is the stage that pits the cream of Asia for trophy honours, Sri Lanka Captain Angelo Mathews said, “it is a very important tournament and today all countries are equally good.
We Sri Lankans are eagerly looking forward to the 2018 edition that will commence on September 15 with Sri Lanka taking on Bangladesh in the curtain raiser. I have got the best team and do look forward to mounting a formidable challenge for the championship stakes.”
Following are excerpts of the exclusive interview by the Lankan skipper to Sri Lanka Cricket’s website:
(Q). The traditional Asia Cup has been the illuminating cricketing extravaganza in the region. How do you view it?
(A). “It is a very important tournament being the mega showpiece of Asian cricket played every couple of years. It is significant that today we find all countries including Bangladesh and minnows Afghanistan equally good. All the teams look forward to playing very serious cricket and Sri Lanka too looks forward to the upcoming tournament.”
(Q). How would you assess the cream of the teams like Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan that will be in the fray?
(A). “The top teams are full of skill and potential and play really good cricket.”
(Q). “You have been entrusted with a blend of experience and youth. How would you assess this mix going into the mega tournament?
(A). “Yes, it’s a mixture of youth and experience and I am happy that I have been entrusted with the best team. I would say we have been improving day by day. As a team we will approach match by match looking forward to do our very best.”
(Q). This tournament would also be an important window approaching the 2019 World Cup in terms of getting the ideal combinations?
(A). “Yes. Every team is keeping an eye on the world cup about seven months from now. We too will be approaching this very important tournament on the basis of each game at a time.”
(Q). “As to your batting you did kindle the type of form that made you a match winner in the home test series against South Africa with that glorious 90 odd in one test. Would you say you are back at your best?”
(A). “I’ve worked hard on my batting and pleased with how I performed in the last home series. Of course, going into the Asia Cup it is a tournament that has to be looked at afresh. I am quite confident. I must also add that by the end of this year I expect to start bowling again with my full fitness”.
(Q). “How would you describe the composition of the squad for the Asia Cup in all departments of the game?”
(A). “We have done our homework in all areas including the batting where we have eight to nine batters who can change a game at any given time.”
(Q). “Have you a particular role for Dasun Shanaka who has displayed his best form in recent outings?”
(A). “Dasun Shanaka has been around for quite some time in the past for the national team in the short format of the game in the T20 and graduating in the 50 over format as well. He is special.”
(Q). “Your comments on the inclusion of veteran fast bowler Lasith Malinga. How important would he be to Sri Lanka’s tilt at the Asia Cup?’
(A). “I’ve believed a lot in Lasith Malinga’s ability. I’ve always looked to Malinga as a potential bowler. Although in recent years he has evolved as a specialist T20 bowler he can be depended on for the 50 over game as well going by his past achievements.”
By Srian Obeyesekere