Playing in Mumbai is no big deal: Mathews

Mumbai: His captain may not be happy to play their last World Cup Group A league match in India, but Angelo Mathews did not see it as a handicap that Sri Lanka are to play New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium here on Friday and not at home.

"It`s not a big deal. The conditions are similar to Sri Lanka and the wickets are also slow. We have also played in India often," said the 23-year-old all-rounder today.

Sangakkara had expressed unhappiness earlier this month that the last league tie of Sri Lanka is scheduled in Mumbai though they are the co-hosts of the tournament.

"We were surprised when we learnt that we will have to travel to Mumbai to play that game (against New Zealand). I thought hosts play at home," Sangakkara had said after his side`s match against defending champions Australia was washed out due to heavy rains in Colombo on March 5.

"Playing the New Zealand game is beyond our control. You can`t change that now. That`s gone now and we need to be up for the task," the Lanka captain had said.

Mathews sees Friday`s match against the Black Caps as a good challenge against a performing side.

"New Zealand have been playing good cricket and we have also been playing well. It would be a good challenge," said Mathews who bowls medium pace and is a hard-hitting lower order batsman.

He has played 40 ODIs in which he has scored 741 runs and taken 31 wickets.

Mathews was not concerned that his role with the bat so far had been limited due to the excellent display put up by the Lankan top-order batsmen and wanted the situation to continue.

"I feel Sri Lanka`s batting is very strong. The top order has batted very well and the opportunities for others have been limited so far. I would be happy if I don`t get to bat and the top order continues to do well," he said.

In five games so far, Mathews got a chance to bat on three occasions, faced 37 balls and scored 35 runs with 21 being his highest score.

He has bowled 22 overs and grabbed four wickets for 105 runs. Mathews knows his role in the team very well and feels it’s a key one.

"I can play a very important role in our team. I can provide balance to the team as an extra batsman and bowler.”

"Whenever I get a chance, I hope to do well," said Mathews who made his ODI debut in Harare against Zimbabwe in 2008.

He said it was up to the captain and think tank whether to entrust him with the new ball or not.

"I am up for whatever the team wants me to do," he said.

Mathews said the Lankan bowling attack is strong and has lot of variety in it, while not relying on any single individual.

"It`s not just a one man show. We have got variety in our bowling. I feel (Lasith) Malinga is the best fast bowler in the world and (Muthiah) Muralitharan is the best spinner," he remarked.

According to Mathews, the Lankans were not too concered where they would finish in the group, having already qualified for the quarter finals, as the entire team is looking up to the bigger challenges lying ahead.

"All the eight teams who qualify would be (of) good (standard) and all the teams would provide a tough challenge (in the knock out rounds)," he said.

Currently Lanka are lying third in the table with seven points, one behind leaders New Zealand and second-placed Pakistan, and one rung above three-time defending champions Australia.

Lanka, level on points with the four-time champions, have a better net run-rate.

However, Australia have one extra game in hand and have the chance to top the table without relying on other results provided they win both their remaining games – tomorrow against Canada at Bangalore and on March 19 against Pakistan at Colombo.