Cricket World Cup 2015

Mathews banks on 'home' support

2015-03-17 09:49
Angelo Mathews (AFP)

Sydney - Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews hopes his side can feed off yet more passionate support from their fans come Wednesday's Cricket World Cup quarter-final against South Africa in Sydney.

When Sri Lanka played tournament co-hosts Australia at the SCG during the pool stages, the vast number of supporters from local expatriate communities, as well as travelling fans, generated so much noise and colour it made the match seem like a home game for the Islanders.

"If you play at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) or SCG it's like playing at home," Mathews told reporters at the SCG on Tuesday.

"Most of the Sri Lankans across Australia or across the world, they fly into Sydney with immense support for us, and we really enjoy playing in Sydney. We've been getting tremendous support wherever we played."

Sri Lanka have a fine record in knockout matches. The reigning World Twenty20 champions, they've also appeared in the last two World Cup finals and won the tournament back in 1996.

By contrast, South Africa have yet to win a knockout match at the World Cup.

Mathews said the key was to remain positive and not be overwhelmed by the fear of failure - a criticism that has been levelled against South Africa.

"I think that when you come to the knockout stages most of the things, most of the teams will think that you can't afford to do mistakes or you'll be out of the tournament.

"That kind of attitude is hard to get rid of. You have to play good cricket back ourselves and go out there and enjoy ourselves."

Turning to the Proteas, he said: "We all know that South Africa are a very hard team to beat, especially in this tournament.

"So the history, it's history. You can't really take anything from it."

Should Sri Lanka lose on Wednesday it promises to be the last one-day international for batting greats Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Sangakkara has been in sensational form this World Cup and comes into the quarter-final having made a record four successive ODI hundreds.

Jayawardene, who scored a hundred in a losing cause during the 2011 World Cup final against India, has had few chances this tournament since making 100 against Afghanistan.

"We've seen Kumar Sangakkara hitting four centuries in a row, and I hope and pray he gets the fifth one tomorrow, while Mahela is a big-match player," said Mathews.

"So hopefully we can win, go into the semis again, the final and win to make it an historic tournament for two legends."

But South Africa have an in-form batsman of their own in skipper AB de Villiers, whose last appearance at the SCG saw him score 162 not out - off just 66 balls - against the West Indies in the pool phase.

"We all know he's a destructive player," said Mathews.

"When he gets going, it's really hard to stop him. So we'll look to attack him early on."

Sri Lanka remain uncertain over the fitness of Rangana Herath, who suffered a finger injury against England, with the bowler's left-arm spin likely to be effective on a SCG pitch renowned for taking turn.

"He's still fifty-fifty," said Mathews. "He hasn't had a bowl yet. The physio has to have a look at him once again today.

"If he bowls at practice today he'll be in contention for selection. If not, he won't be playing."

Read more on:    sri lanka  |  cwc 2015  |  angelo mathews  |  cricket

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