Home Cricket Sri Lanka expect Mendis, Mathews to fire in Bangladesh game

Sri Lanka expect Mendis, Mathews to fire in Bangladesh game

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BRISTOL: Sri Lanka batting coach Jon Lewis believes it is just a matter of time before Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews hit form at the World Cup as the islanders prepare to take on Bangladesh here on Tuesday.

Experienced all-rounder Mathews has yet to open his account after ducks against both New Zealand and Afghanistan while Mendis has scarcely been more productive with a nought in the defeat by the Black Caps followed by just two runs in a tense win over the Afghans, while their last match against Pakistan was abandoned without a ball bowled.

“We have some experienced players in the middle with Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews,” Lewis said during a practice session at the County Ground on Monday. “They obviously haven’t quite fired yet but Afghanistan let us get away with that. I’m confident players of that quality will definitely come to the party soon.

“With Angelo you have to have faith in a guy who has done as much as he has over a long period of time and he tells me he is in a good place and good headspace.

“I have no reason to doubt that the runs will come from him,” added Lewis of the 32-year-old all-rounder, who has scored two One-day International hundreds and 37 fifties.

Mendis has just one ODI hundred from 65 matches, although it did come against Bangladesh in Dambulla two years ago.

This is in marked contrast to the 24-year-old’s Test record of six centuries in 38 matches.

Lewis, asked to explain the difference, said: “Mendis could do with a little bit of a confidence boost. I think for him it’s a case of just getting through those first 20 balls.

“In the build-up to the World Cup, he played well against Scotland and the two warm-up games he looked in good form even though he only got 20s and 30s, which was a downer.

“Those would have been a good opportunity to get a big score, but there was nothing about his form in either of those two games to suggest there’s anything to worry about.

“He’s had two low scores and of course it would be good if he had more runs behind him, but I think he’s probably only 20 balls from being really away.”

Lewis confirmed Sri Lanka would be without Nuwan Pradeep, who took 4-31 against Afghanistan, after the paceman suffered a finger injury during training on Sunday. Suranga Lakmal is set to be brought in as a like-for-like replacement.

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza, meanwhile, can live without the respect of his opponents so long as his side is winning matches at the World Cup.

The Tigers launched their campaign with an impressive win over South Africa but afterwards Mashrafe was annoyed by suggestions the result constituted an upset.

“Do you think this was a surprise,” he asked pointedly. “If we can deliver our best we knew what we could do. I’m sure some people don’t think well of our cricket. We are concentrating on our game and letting other people talk.”

Since then Bangladesh have suffered an agonising two-wicket loss to New Zealand before being on the wrong end of a 106-run thrashing by tournament hosts and favourites England in Cardiff last weekend.

Those defeats make Bangladesh’s match against a struggling Sri Lanka all the more important.

“I’m not worried about who is respecting us, I’m more worried about our performance,” Mashrafe told reporters on Monday. “Winning matches is more important for us. I don’t think respect is going to work in the 22 yards [of a pitch]. It all depends on how we react on the ground.

“If we can win two points, this is more important than respect at the moment,” added the 35-year-old veteran paceman.

Bangladesh knocked England out of the group stage on the way to reaching the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup.

But this year’s format is different, with 10 teams taking part in a round-robin group stage that will see the top four qualify for the semi-finals.

Forecast rain in Bristol, however, could scupper the hopes of both sides for a morale-boosting win.

“I hope that we’ll play a full match tomorrow [Tuesday],” said Mashrafe. “The boys are really hungry to win matches.”