Buoyed by memories of perhaps his finest cricketing moment, Sri Lanka’s captaincy heir apparent Angelo Mathews is relishing the chance to help extend his side’s one-day international hot streak at the MCG.
The Sri Lankans head into Friday’s one-day series opener determined to atone for their 3-0 Test series whitewash and confident they have the talent to do so in the 50-over format.
While they have never won a Test in Australia, the tourists recent ODI record down under is strong.
They beat Australia four times in seven meetings last summer and won their previous one-day series in Australia 2-1 two years earlier.
Their MCG record is particularly good, with one-day wins in their past three visits to Melbourne.
Mathews featured heavily in the most memorable of those, in November 2010, when Sri Lanka were seemingly down and out at 8-107 chasing a target of 240.
In front of a pro-Sri Lankan crowd, Mathews combined with Lasith Malinga for a record 132-run ninth-wicket stand to spearhead an incredible comeback win, helping launch his own career in the process.
“I would say that’s one of the best innings I’ve played so far,” Mathews recalled in Melbourne on Tuesday.
“Against the Aussies, that was my first tour to Australia, the first ever game I played in Australia.
“It was a very big moment and I would say it was a very big stepping stone for my career.”
Again expecting strong support, Mathews says the tourists feel at home in Melbourne.
But while they are strengthened by the inclusion of short-form speedster Malinga and face a very inexperienced Australian squad, Mathews says those involved in the Test series need to lift if they are to triumph.
“It’s going to be a very important series, especially after a thrashing in the Test series,” he said.
He said Malinga, who has been extremely dominant in Australian conditions in the Big Bash League, would be a key.
“The experience he puts in with other teammates is unbelievable so we bank on Malinga,” Mathews said.