Let's put events into sequence before we go on a questioning spree:
1. Sri Lanka win 10 and lose 22 matches in T20Is in the period before the tour of Pakistan and after the 2016 World T20.
2. Sri Lanka drop Angelo Mathews in August 2019 for the New Zealand series, retaining Lasith Malinga as captain.
3. Sri Lanka take a second-string T20I side to Pakistan and win 3-0.
4. Sri Lanka recall Mathews to T20I team for India series in 2020.
The absurdity isn't quite evident from the sequence of events above because it doesn't link Sri Lanka to Mathews and Mathews to T20s yet. But one plain look at it says two things - one, Sri Lanka's second-string side did better than their main team and two, Mathews was dropped and recalled with zero holes to plug in the line-up.
The second-string team put together owing to security concerns did better than the main team and beat a Pakistan side which has the best win/loss ratio in the format since the last World T20.
As such, the recall of Mathews makes no sense. Now, this is level one of absurdity and a glance at Mathews and his T20 record is a straight jump to level 5.
In 72 T20Is for Sri Lanka, Mathews has 1055 runs at an average of 27.05 and a strike rate below 120 with just five half-centuries. In all T20s, Mathews has walked out 153 times, making 2435 runs at an average of 25.63 and a strike rate of 120.48 with just four additional half-centuries in more than 81 additional games.
Now, Mathews last played for Sri Lanka in the format against South Africa in 2018 and recorded a duck. He was dropped since for the New Zealand series in August. But incidentally, since August 2018, Mathews has never played a single T20 even at franchise level. Recurring injuries being one major reason and the hesitation to play T20 cricket for lower franchises being another.
Now, that didn't deter him from putting a base price of Rs 2 crore for himself in the just-concluded Indian T20 League auction. Unsurprisingly, he had no takers. Sri Lanka watched it too. After the New Zealand series for which he was dropped and before the India tour now, Mathews played zero T20s and Sri Lanka won four and lost five games, a reasonable record compared to the past few years.
Yet, Mathews was recalled.
Probably he did well in ODIs? Unfortunately no. He played zero ODIs in this time frame.
Probably, the Lankan middle-order batsmen did poorly? No, Oshada Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella and Dasun Shanaka actually had a pretty good time.
Why was Mathews recalled then in a format he has never really had any success in? Why did Mathews enroll himself in the Indian T20 League auction at the highest base price when he had played zero T20s in the lead up to the year? Why did Sri Lanka drop Mathews in the first place if they didn't like the younger crop of players?
No, none of these questions have answers. Not just us, even Sri Lanka are unlikely to have answers.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Dibgyangshu Sarkar