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March 17, 2015

Angelo Mathews


Q. Obviously, AB de Villiers was particularly destructive when he last played at this ground, and Sri Lanka with the batsmen you have on your side as well. Are you expecting this to be a pretty entertaining match? And having it at the SCG itself, what's that mean for you playing a game like this at this venue?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, if you play at MCG or SCG it's like playing at home. 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. Also it's going to be a tough game for both teams. As we all know, we've come to the business end of the tournament, and whoever makes less mistakes will obviously go on to win. We're just trying not to put too much pressure on ourselves. Just take it as just another game and try to win it.

Q. Can you just give us an update on Rangana's progress, and what chance he has to play tomorrow?
ANGELO MATHEWS: He's still 50-50. He hasn't had a bowl yet, so we gave him a couple of more days from two days before. But 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.

Q. Particularly AB de Villiers and Steyn, what would be your approach to those two players especially?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Yeah, I mean, we all know that de Villiers is a destructive player and Steyn is a very good bowler, so we have plans against them. We look to execute them well, and if we execute them well, we can tie them down and be attacking.

Q. They ask you about the big builders, AB de Villiers and Kumar playing in the same game. Someone who has been watching, how do you pay tribute to the skills of both of those players?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Absolutely. They're ledge legends of the modern game. We've seen Kumar Sangakkara hitting four centuries in a row, and I hope and pray he gets the fifth one tomorrow. Also, AB has done pretty well. We all know he's a destructive player. When he gets going, it's really hard to stop him. So we'll look to attack him early on so we can try to get his wickets so we can push them back.

Q. You played an amazing final four years ago against India, and Mahela got a hundred there which is a great knock. Do you feel this tournament has some unfinished business to attend to?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Definitely. We look to improve every game. Our bowling and fielding has been lacking. We haven't been at our best in our bowling and fielding, and the batters have been pretty good, so hopefully they can continue and we can improve on our bowling and fielding in tomorrow's game.

Q. Angelo, have you got the confidence to play in a big game?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Of course. He bowls quite fast and he hits that 147 mark which is extraordinary for a Sri Lanka. I think he's played only two games, but he's matured. All we want him to do is go out there and bowl fast. That's all we want. We don't want him to overreact to the batsmen or anything. We just want him to go out there and bowl fast. So we have the confidence that if he plays tomorrow he'll be up for it.

Q. Sri Lanka team had a chance to play on the same grounds against Australia. Do you think in that type of Australian match playing against Australia (Indiscernible)?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Yeah, we had a chance to look at the wicket, but obviously I haven't had a look at the wicket today. Yesterday was much greener, but it was a very good wicket. We thought it would speed, but it didn't. It turned a little bit, but not as expected in the Australian game. We all know it's a very good wicket for batting, so there will be plenty of runs scored.

Q. Do you think (Indiscernible)?
ANGELO MATHEWS: I don't think so. I hope not. Look, I mean, generally the wickets have been extremely good, so we've seen teams chasing 300 as well. So if a team bats first and if they get to the 300 mark the game is not yet over. The wickets have been really good, so I hope that it won't be a major factor.

Q. If Rangana is not playing tomorrow, is there a chance you'll bring in (Indiscernible) to the squad and he might be in contention, or is that not an option?
ANGELO MATHEWS: We have our options open. We'll decide on that today. We have to decide on that today. So we'll probably have to see Rangana how he goes at the nets and then make a call.

Q. Sri Lanka have had a lot of success in knockout games in recent years. What is the key, do you think, to playing these types of games as far as you're concerned?
ANGELO MATHEWS: I think as a team we shouldn't put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We just have to approach it positively and aggressively just as we did early in the last first round games. 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.

Q. Angelo, do you think South Africa's record in knockout matches plays into your hands at all? They're going to be even more nervous, I would imagine.
ANGELO MATHEWS: Yeah, both teams will be nervous for sure. We all know that South Africans are a very hard team to beat, especially in this tournament. They've come out really hard and they have a good, balanced team. So the history, it's history. You can't really take anything from it, and you've got to move on and look forward to the games that you play. Statistics I don't really bother. It's just that we have to on that day. We have to go out there and perform well to beat the South Africans.

Q. The emotion surrounding the game given prima Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, the fact that if you lose it's their last, do you try and harness that as captain? Do you use that as motivation and pay specific tribute to them in the build up?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Of course we've talked about it quite a lot, and we look to try to make this tournament an historical one for them. They've been performing really well. I think Mahela also got a brilliant hundred against Afghanistan, and since he hasn't had the opportunity to have a good knock. I'm sure Mahela is a big match player and the top four has to score runs for us to be in contention and to get a big one. So hopefully we can make it an historical one winning tomorrow and go into the semis again and hopefully go to the finals and win there and make it historical for two legends.

Q. Given the amount of injuries to bowlers and so forth, are you trying to back your team with a couple extra batsmen and try to compete with South Africa in terms of batting? Is that your strategy?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Not really. We don't look to compromise our batting to bowling or bowling to batting. We have to have a balanced team. If we bat first or bowl first we have got to have the team to do it. So we don't look to compromise on anything. We'll try to make it as balanced as possible. Hopefully we can bring out the best.

Q. Has it been difficult to get that balance right?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Not really. We have had a few injuries, but we've got a squad of 15. So whoever gets the opportunity, we'll obviously try to grab that. Also we've got certain combination where we can use. So, well, it's not a bother. Also, I must say that except for Rangana, everyone is eligible for selection.

Q. Angelo, as captain, what do you think has been Jeremy Snape's role in helping the team prepare? Because both teams seem to be investing a lot in the mental side of the game. Just tell us what Jeremy's role has been with the Sri Lanka team?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Yeah, obviously, when you come to a tournament like this there is a lot of pressure on the players. So Jeremy's role has been to try to reduce the amount of pressure on the players. So he's been talking to a lot of players individually and as a team, so he's been very helpful. He helps us out a lot in so many ways.

Q. Can I ask you about AB de Villiers and Kumar, how you rate those two and how this will be a big stage for them?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Yeah, as I said before, they're absolute legends of the game. Kumar has been brilliant in the past four games for us, and hopefully he can get one more tomorrow. Obviously, Kumar is one of the hardest workers I've ever seen. He's the first one to get into the nets and the last two get out of the nets. Also, AB, we all know that he's such a destructive player. We need to try to get rid of him as early as we can or else we'll be in trouble. So we look to try to get AB out as soon as possible. But I know both of them are absolute legends of the game.

Q. Just going back to 2007 and 2011, the finals are a little bit of frustration to win it with both Kumar and Mahela there. How important is it for you to actually make this one count? Because there is a frustration, heartbreak back in Sri Lanka, this is the one that you really want to win because it's been building up to almost getting there, right?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Yeah, I mean, before looking at the finals we need to try to take one game at a time. First the qualifiers and the semifinals, and we'll try to address those when we get to the final. But, yeah, we've performed really well in the past two World Cups in 2007 and '11. Unfortunately, we couldn't make it. But we'll look to try and take one game at a time, concentrate on the quarterfinals ahead first, and then move on from there and take it as it comes.

Q. You spoke a little bit about the home support you get here. Can you describe a little bit of what it feels like when you go out and see the flags flying all over the stadium, and especially on a pitch like this that can take a little bit of a turn, what's that like for you as a team?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Yeah, we've been getting tremendous support wherever we played. In New Zealand and in Australia, and Australia, especially as I said before in Melbourne and Sydney, it's like playing at home. It's such a wonderful atmosphere. We invite all the Sri Lankans across Australia to come to Sydney, fill up those stands and the support is tremendous. So we look forward to playing in front of a large crowd.
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