Elevated as captain at the last minute for the ICC World Twenty20 because of an injury to the designated skipper Lasith Malinga, top Sri Lanka all-rounder Angelo Mathews today said he took up the challenge as he could not let his country down.
“I was told to lead the team in the World Cup. How can I say no? I can’t let the team and country down. I will take this as a positive as I know they have trust in me. I will try my best to do whatever is possible to get to the top with the team I have,” said Mathews at the pre-tournament media conference here.
The 28-year-old Test captain maintained that the change at the helm will not affect the team as the players are focused.
“It’s unfortunate that Malinga is not fit as yet, so we had to take that call, but he’s a very important person in our team. So we kept him in the squad hoping he would be fit to play our first game (on March 17). We want him to rest and recover properly.
“After he resigned as captain I was asked to take over. We are not very disturbed as the administrators know what needs to be done. As cricketers it’s important for us to focus on this tournament. We are not really worried about what’s happening outside,” Mathews said.
Sri Lanka will be defending the title that it won by beating India in the final two years ago in Bangladesh.
“They have given me the team that I wanted. Now it’s a matter of going there and expressing ourselves, play with a lot of freedom and positivity. That’s what I expect.
“I don’t want them to think we are going to win the World Cup. I want them to take it one game at a time and play with a lot of freedom. If we do that I am sure we are going to beat most of the teams,” said the new skipper.
Mathews felt that the underdogs tag suited Sri Lanka.
“Not going as favourites is doing a favour to us. We have admitted we have not played good cricket in the Asia Cup (won by India recently in Bangladesh), but the morale in the team is quite good. It’s a new series and we are hoping that we will click. We are starting our campaign from tomorrow (with a practice game) and hopefully we can go till the end,” he said.