Colombo: For the better part of last year and the first few months of this year, Angelo Mathews couldn't bowl because he was carrying a calf injury. Consequently, the balance of Sri Lanka's side was hugely hit.
Mathews is now back to full fitness, pulling his weight with bat and ball, and the effect is there for all to see. With Mathews and Thisara Perera fulfilling the role of allrounders beautifully, Sri Lanka have depth in both batting and bowling, as evidenced by their recent performances in both Test and One-Day International cricket.
"I've always enjoyed bowling as much as I could," said Mathews, Sri Lanka's vice-captain, on Friday. "I had a few issues with injuries in the past, but of late, I've been bowling pretty well and my fitness is pretty good. I'm hoping to continue in the same manner for as long as possible.
"I've relished bowling with the new ball. For my type of bowling, there'll be help with the new ball. It seams a bit when there is assistance from the surface, and my job is to keep it tight until the other bowlers come in and attack."
Mathews and Perera go back a long way, having schooled together at St Joseph's. "We both go as allrounders in the team," said Mathews. "We enjoy each other's company and we help each other a lot. Thisara has been wonderful in the recent past and he's been very consistent with bat and ball. He has started working really hard. He’s very committed to training and he wants to get better and better every day. He is a great one for learning, he always keep approaching the senior players to talk about the intricacies of the game."
After a poor run following defeat to India in the World Cup final in April 2011, Sri Lanka are showing signs of turning things around. They won their first Test series at home since Muttiah Muralitharan's retirement in 2008 earlier this month against Pakistan, following it up with a 3-1 success in the ODI series after a seven-event drought.
"We had a really bad patch for about six to eight months," conceded Mathews. "We didn't do well as a team. But I think we've picked up now and are doing really well. Our form is pretty good and our batsmen, bowlers and fielders are doing well. It's just that we need to be consistent."
Despite the nine-wicket win on Tuesday, Mathews was wary of taking India lightly. "Even though it was a convincing victory and we were good in all three departments, we can't relax at any given time, especially against the Indians, because they can come back hard at us," said Mathews. "We have plans for individuals (with reference to Virat Kohli's brilliant run against Sri Lanka) but we don't take them individually. All of India’s top six are capable of making big scores, we look at them as a unit."