Sri Lanka’s miseries were compounded after yet another defeat against Zimbabwe in the fifth and final ODI on Monday (July 10), costing Angelo Mathews & Co. the series. The Sri Lankan team was already under severe criticism following their group stage exit at the Champions Trophy and two losses in the series but they did little in the series-decider to shut their critics down as they become the first Sri Lankan side to lose a series against Zimbabwe at home or away.
Devastated after the loss, Mathews said it was one of the lowest points of his career. Right from the toss to Sikandar Raza’s series-clinching six, nothing went right for Sri Lanka as they lost the series 2-3.
“It’s one of the lowest points in my career. This one is hard to swallow. Everything went against us today from toss to misreading the wicket. No excuses though. At the end of the day, we were not good enough to beat them. They played better cricket,” Mathews said after the loss.
After being put in to bat first, the Sri Lankan batsmen, who were in good form coming into the match, performed poorly and were restricted to 203 for 8 in the allotted 50 overs. The hosts got a glimmer of hope when Zimbabwe lost five quick wickets in the chase to get reduced to 175 for 7 from 148 for 2 but Raza and Graeme Cremer shared an unbeaten partnership of 29 runs to guide the visitors to a historic win.
“I am bitterly disappointed that our batting was a flop today. Although we did well throughout the series with batting, our eventual score wasn’t enough today. We have a lot of improvements to make. As a team we trained hard but nothing was working in the middle,” said the Sri Lanka skipper.
Mathews also leapt in defence of senior pacer Lasith Malinga who endured a torrid time in the series, managing just 4 wickets at an average of 50. Barring the impressive second spell in the final ODI, Malinga failed to put in an impressive performance in the series but Mathews said the veteran’s presence in the side is helping the youngsters.
“I thought he bowled well. He has been trying hard. He has been not playing lot of 50-overs cricket. He told the selectors that he is available to play all five games. Younger bowlers are learning from him and he reverse swung the ball to deadly effect today,” Mathews said.
Sri Lanka’s selectors have been criticised for snubbing Dinesh Chandimal and the criticism is only going to elevate after the team’s horrific batting show in the final ODI.
Speaking on that, Mathews said: “Look, as the selectors explained the other day, we decided to have only six batsmen as we thought having a spinning all-rounder moving forward was good. After we lost the first game, things changed dramatically. The selectors had ideas to bring in other players once we won the series for the last two games, but everything went wrong after we lost the first game.”