COLOMBO, (Reuters) – Angelo Mathews has stepped down as Sri Lanka’s captain, local media reported yesterday, a day after the 30-year-old described the one-day series loss to Zimbabwe as one of the lowest points in his career.
Sikandar Raza’s stellar all-round display guided Zimbabwe to their first one-day international series win over hosts Sri Lanka with a nervous three-wicket victory in the fifth and final match at Hambantota on Monday.
Mathews had said he was contemplating his future as captain and cricket website ESPNcricinfo reported that the all-rounder had informed the Sri Lanka selectors of his decision to step down in all three formats of the international game.
Zimbabwe, ranked 11th in the world, had never beaten Sri Lanka before this series and their triumph was all the sweeter after losing previous encounters with Scotland and Afghanistan.
“It’s one of the lowest points in my career, and a hard one to swallow,” Mathews said after the 3-2 series defeat.
“Everything went against us, from the toss to misreading the wicket. But there are no excuses. At the end of the day we were not good enough to beat them. They played better cricket.”
Sri Lanka’s form in the 50-over format has been dismal since the 2015 World Cup and they have suffered series defeats against England, South Africa and Australia. They also drew against Bangladesh at home and were knocked out of this year’s Champions Trophy at the group stage.
“We have not been consistent. The pressure is on all of us,” Mathews said. “The more we lose, the more pressure we are under. There is no solution for that and the only solution is winning. We try to win games, but we commit too many mistakes.”
Sri Lanka, the 1996 50-over world champions, have left the door open for West Indies to pip them in the race for automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales.
The top eight teams in the rankings, including hosts England, will qualify directly. The rest will have to go through a qualification tournament to make the 10-team event.
Sri Lanka are ranked eighth and face a tough five-match series at home to India while West Indies, ranked a place below, play the same number of matches against England before the Sept. 30 cutoff date.
“We have an India series coming up, but before that we have the test against Zimbabwe to talk about,” Mathews said. “The Indian series will be even tougher.
“In a small period we have to fix our problems. As a team we did the training, but nothing is working in the middle.”