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  • Deivarayan Muthu in Pune

Sri Lanka have a tearaway in Lahiru Kumara. “He’s quick in our terms, he might be quick in Australian terms also,” was how bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake described him a year ago.

But Kumara didn’t get the new ball in Pune. Instead, Lasith Malinga tossed it to Angelo Mathews, who was playing his first T20I since August 2018.

Back in the day, Mathews ran through India in Colombo, but that was when Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid were still playing international cricket. He’s been a reluctant bowler of late, and when he took the match-turning wicket of Nicholas Pooran against West Indies during last year’s World Cup, he wasn’t just bowling his first ball of the match, but his first ball in eight months.

When he does bowl now, it’s gentle medium-pace off a short run-up. But he can still make things happen. In his first over at the MCA Stadium, he ambled in and floated a 121kph ball into Shikhar Dhawan’s pads, and the left-hander flicked it airily to deep square leg, only for Dasun Shanaka to misdjudge the flight of the ball and parry it away to the boundary.

and have won just once.

A bit of experience will do Sri Lanka’s cause no harm as they look to step out of that rut, and Mathews certainly brings that. They will hope he can keep himself fit, contribute with the ball, and rediscover his attacking enterprise with the bat.

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