Arjuna Ranatunga has stated that the board should not have allowed Angelo Mathews to step down as the skipper despite following a humiliating home series loss to Zimbabwe last month. Meanwhile, Sanath Jayasuriya added that Mathews will play the role of main all-rounder for the Lankan team.
Sri Lanka lost the One-Day International to Zimbabwe and conceded the series 2-3 and hand the visiting side its first bilateral ODI series win over a full-member nation away from home in 16 years. Mathews, who took over as skipper from Mahela Jayawardene in 2013, led Sri Lanka in 34 Tests, winning 13 and losing 15. In ODIs, he won 47 and lost 46, while in Twenty20 Internationals, he won four and lost seven.
After his resignation, SLC handed over the duty to Upul Tharanga and Dinesh Chandimal but fortunes remained the same as India blanked them 3-0 in Tests before winning the first two ODIs of the ongoing series. In the wake of it, Arjuna Ranatunga has come out in support of Angelo Matthews and stated that the board must have convinced him to stay at his position.
“Mathews is the best captain I have seen after Ranjan Madugalle. When he said that he wanted to quit, SLC should have told him to hang in there without throwing the towel in. If I had any say, I would have told him that this is not the time to quit,” Ranatunga told Cricbuzz.
“When Sri Lanka whitewashed number one ranked Australia in the Test series last year, there were a lot of people to take credit, but sadly when he lost he was made the scapegoat and all the blame was on him. Mathews was a very positive captain, but due to constant changes and lots of chopping and changing he started becoming negative because he lost the confidence,” added Ranatunga praising Matthews.
Following the poor result at the Champions Trophy, the fitness and fielding abilities of the Sri Lankan players were questioned and after that, injuries also kept continuing as Sri Lanka had to play without any pacer in the second pace thanks to Dhamika Prasad's injury. The hosts also lacked a proper all-rounder that compounded their woes. However, Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka’s chairman of selectors stated that Mathews will play a significant role of an all-rounder in the ongoing one-day series against India.
"It’s a big relief that Angelo will be able to bowl for us again. We have to manage him carefully and he is at the moment not ready to bowl full quota of ten overs, but he will certainly be able to bowl five to six overs. That’s a big plus point for us as it helps us to balance the side," said Jayasuriya.
Currently, Sri Lanka is behind India with a score of 0-2 in the five-match ODI series. Upul Tharanga is leading the squad since Mathews stepped aside.