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Mathews blames batting failure for loss

Colombo :Disappointed with his team’s repeated batting failures, Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews today came down hard on his batsmen saying their approach is not right and he needs to sit down with selectors to sort out “issues”.

Coming into the game with the series tied at 1-1, Cheteshwar Pujara struck an unbeaten 145 in the first innings to give India the upperhand in the deciding Test. Responding to India’s 312, Lanka were shot out for 201 and lost the grip on the match.

“The cause for our defeat is our first innings’ batting. After winning a crucial toss and putting them in, bowlers bowled well. We could have kept them below 250. But we should have batted well earlier on, but we flopped,” said Mathews after the 1-2 series loss.

“The wicket was a bit demanding but Pujara batted brilliantly. He held the innings together. If not for him they wouldn’t have scored that many runs. Our batsmen need to grab opportunities. As I always say, we don’t have Mahela (Jayawardene) and (Kumar) Sangakkara anymore. If we can score 350 all the time we will be good. But we are struggling to get 300 and it’s a concern.

“We messed up with our batting and Pujara played well. When we batted I don’t think our approach was right. We couldn’t bat and make 300. We will sit down with selectors and address those issues,” he added.

Given to chase a mammoth 386 to win the match, Lankan batsmen once again faltered only to see some resistance from Mathews (110) and Kusal Perera (70), who stitched a 135-run sixth-wicket partnership to give the hosts some hope on the final day.

“We need our top order to fire. Chasing 385, we could have done it had we had wickets in our hands. We lost three wickets for 20 runs, which was a bit too many. You can’t expect the middle order to score that many runs. But there were lots of positives though Kusal Perera batted positively. I thought he grabbed his opportunity and he looks a tremendous player,” said Mathews.

Mathews played the lone hand with his 7th Test hundred, as Lanka were bowled out for 268 runs. Mathews now urges his players to step up after the departure of Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

“I have played a few games now, about 52 Tests. I am a little bit more experienced than some of the other guys in the team. Now it’s past Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene era and others need to step up. Now it has to be a collective effort. It won’t be a case of one individual or two individuals scoring runs all the time. Those who get starts need to go on,” said the skipper.