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Sri Lankan Cricket Team touring New Zealand

December 3, 2015

Notice from SLC …… http://www.srilankacricket.lk/news/sri-lanka-tour-of-new-zealand-squads-for-test-odi-t20i-series

Sri Lankan bowler Rangana Herath (R) and Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews leave the pitch at the end of Pakistan's first innings during the opening day of the second Test match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on January 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Ishara S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

 Rangana Herath (R) and Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews are the two experienced players in anew-look Sri Lankan squad — AFP PHOTO/Ishara S. KODIKARA =Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images

At a meeting of the Selection Committee held on 13th  November 2015 at Sri Lanka Cricket,  the following squads were selected for the Test, ODI and T/20 Series respectively for the above tour which will begin from the 03 of December 2015  and will go on up to the 10 January 2016.

Test Squad
Angelo Mathews (Captain), Kusal Mendis, Udara Jayasundara, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Janith Perera, Milinda Siriwardana, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Jeffrey Vandersay

ODI Squad
Angelo Mathews (Captain), Lahiru Thirimanne (Vice Captain), T M Dilshan, Kusal Janith Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Milinda Siriwardene, Dhanushka Gunatillake, Sachithra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis, Dhammika Prasad, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Chamara Kapugedera, Jeffrey Vandersay

T20I Squad
Lasith Malinga (Captain), Kusal Janith Perera, Shehan Jayasuriya, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedera, Kithuruwan Vithanage, T M Dilshan, Nuwan Kulasekera, Dushmantha Chameera, Thisara Perera, Jeffrey Vandersay, Sachithra Senanayake, Isuru Udana

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Sa’adi Thawfeeq’s Review for ESPNcricinfo: “Mathews does not expect to lose in New Zealand,” 26 November 2015

Sri Lanka began their post Jayawardene-Sangakkara era on a winning note by defeating West Indies quite convincingly in the Test and ODI series, but captain Angelo Mathews admitted that his team will face their toughest challenge so far in New Zealand, later this year. “We played some really good cricket against the West Indies, we outplayed them in all three departments in all formats but it will be a completely different tour in New Zealand because conditions and the opposition are different,” Mathews said before his team’s departure on Thursday.

“We have got to start off from zero, this is a bigger challenge for us because the weather is not going to be on our side, it will be tough and cold but it’s the mental aspect,” he said. “If we can get our mindset right we shouldn’t be too worried about the cold or anything else and make any excuses, we can just go on the tour and play to win. New Zealand is a very competitive and strong team, not only at home but away as well. In the last couple of years they have played their best cricket. They are a very competitive unit right now, with a very good, balanced team of youth and experience and it’s going to be a tough ask for us to beat them. But I am pretty sure if we do our very best we can beat them.”

Sri Lanka toured New Zealand last December and were thrashed 2-0 in Tests and 4-2 in the ODI series, at a time when Sangakkara was still playing and Jayawardene had yet to finish in ODIs. The present side is vastly inexperienced, with left-arm spinner Rangana Herath (65) and Mathews (54) as the only players with over thirty Test appearances.

Mathews, however, believes that the level of experience is less important than the players applying themselves. “We are going to play some really good cricket and we expect to win,” Mathews said. “We don’t expect to go there and lose or compete, whether it is inexperience it doesn’t really matter. We had experienced guys in the last couple of years and we still lost to some countries over the years. It’s about applying ourselves, we are definitely not going to lose or compete it’s just a matter of taking up the challenge and doing your very best.

“Especially in the Test line-up we have loads of newcomers and only a couple of senior guys in the batting who have played more than 20 Test matches. It’s going to be a tough tour but if we apply ourselves and take up the challenge I am pretty sure we can give New Zealand a good run for their money.”

Mathews also refused to accept that batting was the weak point of his team. “We’ve got an inexperienced batting line up but skill-wise even the newcomers have scored a lot of runs. When it comes to Kithuruwan [Vithanage] and Udara Jayasundara – they have scored a lot of runs in New Zealand and they have a good feel of the conditions,” he added.

Mathews also stated that Jerome Jayaratne, the interim head coach of the team, was working very closely with the batsmen by helping them ‘to counterattack and hang in there when difficult situations arise”. Mathews said that for practice, his team has been playing on tracks that will be similar to the seam-friendly wickets of New Zealand, but due to the weather and conditions it has been difficult for them to prepare those kind of pitches.

“Even the pitches have been prepared in a way where the seamers have a lot of assistance. We’ve been training for the past two weeks on those tracks,” Mathews said. “We are trying to practice on surfaces similar to ones that we will get in New Zealand. You don’t get the ideal wicket because our weather and conditions but we have tried our level best to prepare wickets as close as possible where it helps seamers quite a lot and the batsmen have been batting pretty well on it.”

Bowling is an area where the pacers have delivered for Sri Lanka but the inexperience shows. Sri Lanka’s pace quartet of Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera have a combined total of 66 Test matches and captured 167 wickets compared to the experienced Herath, who has taken 293 wickets from 65 Tests and will be Sri Lanka’s key strike-bowler on the tour even though the conditions may not be to his liking.

One of the main causes for Sri Lanka’s defeats in New Zealand was their poor catching and fitness. However, on this occasion they have addressed that area carefully with the help of their English trainer, Michael Main, who has put them through their paces and the results of it were seen in the recently concluded series against West Indies.

Another key area Sri Lanka has worked on is removing the fear of failure, which the players had when Jayaratne took over as head coach for the West Indies series. “We talked a lot about it when it comes to dressing room atmosphere and the fear these individuals have,” Mathews said. “We tried our very best with Jerome’s help to make sure the players get rid of their individual doubts as well as play with a lot of freedom. He’s worked a lot with the support staff as well to clear the environment so that we are not afraid to do mistakes.

“The coach has a very big part to play in the team and he has to get involved in making the players mindset right, trying to give them a lot of confidence and make sure they get rid of their individual fears. It plays a massive part in the team as well you feel the team environment is really good, the boys are very happy. You can still do mistakes but the fear of failure is not there.”

Mathews then revealed that playing music in the dressing room has helped the team relax and keep the dressing room alive during a Test. “That is the fear that the individuals have, the fear of failure is something that each individual has and if you can cope with that, if you think you are not afraid to do any mistakes, less number of mistakes will occur. It’s just a matter of mindset and we tried to keep the dressing room alive by playing a little bit of music and keeping it relaxed and it has helped a lot. We introduced it initially in the Test series and it worked pretty well they are very happy and they are moving in the right direction.”

Mathews was optimistic that if his team could come through in the New Zealand tour with a win it would have a massive impact on the players for the future. “We are quite an inexperienced team when it comes to Test cricket and also beating New Zealand in their conditions is very tough, not many teams have done that. If we can do that it will make a huge impact and create a lot of confidence in the group going forward,” Mathews said.

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