Angelo Mathews: We have to be on top of our game

Sri Lankan skipper, Angelo Mathews, is well aware of the tough challenges that awaits his team at the ICC Champions Trophy.

Sri Lanka players during a training session ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy. Sri Lanka has won only four out of the last fourteen ODI matches.   -  Reuters

Sri Lankan skipper, Angelo Mathews, is well aware of the tough challenges that awaits his team at the ICC Champions Trophy. Clubbed in Group A with defending champion India, No. 1 ODI side in the world, South Africa, and Pakistan, the Lankan skipper will need to bring in all his experience to guide his side to the knock-out phase. 

Excerpts from an interview:

Question: Going into the tournament, Sri Lanka has won only four out of the last fourteen ODI matches. What are your expectations from the team?

Answer: I think, specially with regards to the training that we had in the last couple of weeks, I am extremely happy with how we (have) trained. The attitude and the intensity was absolutely brilliant and it is very pleasing to see the guys working extremely hard. We actually started training for May 2 and then we had this intense training program in Kandy, which I thought was brilliant. We used all the facilities and had an indoor net, if it rained. We worked extremely hard on our fielding, fitness and skill. I am very pleased with the way we are at the moment.

If you consider the other teams, you are in a very difficult group... There’s South Africa and India there...

Yes, I think both the groups are extremely tough and almost all the teams are very much even. Any team can beat any team on a given day. That is why we do not have much time for hiccups and to comeback in this tournament. We got to be ready from the very first game and the South Africans have been playing extremely good cricket over the past year or so. We have to be on top of our game to beat them and I am sure we can do that.

In the 2013 Champions Trophy, Sri Lanka was knocked out by India in the semi-final. What were the lessons learnt from that defeat?

India have played a lot of cricket in England and they are a very hard team to beat and knows the conditions there well. As we all know, they are a force in international cricket. As I keep saying, all three teams are good. We have to be on top of our game to play against South Africa, India and Pakistan. 

How do you see Virat Kohli as a player? He has done really well against Sri Lanka.

He has a really good record against Sri Lanka, but hopefully he will not have a good record in England against us, fingers crossed. We will do our very best to try and get him out early.

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