Sydney: Wary of the threat his counterpart AB de Villiers is to his side, Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews says getting rid of the dashing right-hander early will be the key to his side's success in the first World Cup quarterfinal to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) here on Wednesday.
"AB is 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. When he gets going, it's really hard to stop him," Mathews said at the pre-match press conference here on Tuesday.
Mathews believes both teams will be nervous heading into the encounter and praised the African side for playing some quality cricket.
“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. We have to go out there and perform well to beat the South Africans," said Mathews.
The young captain also banks on the support from the crowd, saying, "If you play at MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) or SCG it's like playing at home, most of the Sri Lankans across Australia or across the world, they fly into Sydney and give immense support for us. So we really enjoy playing in Sydney.
“It's such a wonderful atmosphere and we invite all the Sri Lankans across Australia to come to Sydney and fill up those stands."
Speaking on the availability of left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who is yet to recover from a finger injury, Mathews said there is a "50-50" chance of him playing but insisted there were other bowlers who could do a good job filling up his boots.
“Still in our squad we have Sachithra Senanayake and Seekkuge Prasanna. Sachithra is a very experienced bowler, so we can use him anytime. But we will wait on Rangana and give it another day to see if he heals well enough," said Mathews.
Herath's absence would open the door ajar for another bowler. On a pitch that is expected to be fast, the Lankans may retain the three-spiked seam attack that played against Scotland which means rookie quick Dushmantha Chameera could get his chance again but has to out-compete Suranga Lakmal in order to feature in the side.
"Suranga and Dushmantha are different sort of bowlers. Suranga swings it while Dushmantha bowls bowls quite fast and he hits that 147 mark which is extraordinary for a Sri Lankan," said Mathews.
"He's played only two games but he's matured. All we want him to do is go out there and bowl fast. We have the confidence that if he plays tomorrow he'll be up for it."