Mathews will sit out the five-match series against England, which gets under way in Dambulla on Wednesday, after being dropped in acrimonious circumstances by selectors.
They claimed the 31-year-old was not sufficiently fit, while head coach Chandika Hathurusingha took the curious decision of drawing attention to Mathews’ “world record” for involvement in run-outs.
Chandimal must therefore attempt to secure a first Sri Lankan win in 10 series without a player who averages a shade under 60 since the start of 2017.
Speaking on the eve of the series, Chandimal said: “We all know he is our best batsman, especially when it comes to the shorter formats.
“I hope he will identify what he needs to do to come back to the side and come back strongly. It is mainly his fitness.”
All the pre-series signs suggest Sri Lanka will do well to preserve their proud limited-overs record against the ICC’s top-ranked team.
On home soil they have won 15 of the 21 ODIs between the sides and Chandimal’s best hope of continuing in that vein appears to hinge on spinners Lakshan Sandakan and Akila Dananjaya.
“These conditions are very different to what England are used to playing in,” Chandimal said.
“The pitches here spin and it is not an easy thing to play especially for the batters. Overall comparing our boys to England, they have more experience but we have more mystery spinners in our side.
“When you are a batsman if there is a mystery spinner you have to try to go for innovative shots, then you can put the pressure back on him.”
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