Angelo Mathews struck a timely unbeaten 107 to rescue Sri Lanka from the pitfall of a shaky 2 for 7 to a satisfactory 229 for 4 on the opening day of the second Test match against England at the Galle International Stadium on Friday. It was Mathews’ first Test ton at Galle and the 11th in his career consuming 228 deliveries comprising 11 boundaries. Following two face saving partnerships with Lahiru Thirimanne of 69 for the third wicket and 117 for the fourth wicket, he had added an unfinished 36 runs for the fifth wicket with Niroshan Dickwella who did well for a composed 19 off 60 hitting just the solitary boundary as Sri Lanka pushed for more runs.
The 33-year old former captain, kindled memories of his hitherto priceless three figure innings for his country as Mathews battled Sri Lanka back into contention in an innings of gall and resolve in humid conditions in an unflinching take on a fired up James Anderson led England charge. He combined in a 69-run third wicket-rallying with opener Lahiru Thirimanne who made 43 after Anderson had cut through Kusal Janith Perera caught by Joe Root for 6, and Oshada Fernando who was bowled for a horror duck on comeback from injury. He lasted just 4 balls while Pererra lasted only 14 balls for 6. Anderson’s figures read 3 for 24.
Mathews’ three figure knock in the wake of his second innings 71 in the lost first test as the former captain noted in a after play chat with the match broadcaster was an on the heels fruity comeback. He was mindful that such a continuing heat on the second day could cause the wicket to take early spin.
The Mathews-Thirimanne recovery trail looked promising for bigger things with the left-handed opener batting more freely with some fluent stroke-play following his century in the first test. But when he looked on song, Thirimanne lost his way edging Anderson to wicket-keeper Buttler soon after the lunch break with the total 76. His 95-ball stay fetched 5 boundaries.
Mathews continued the fight joined by stand in skipper Dinesh Chandimal as the fourth wicket pair carved a decisive 117 runs which ended with Sri Lanka 7 short of 200 when the latter was trapped leg before wicket by Wood for 52. He lost the review with the replay showing the ball on course to hit leg stump. Chandimal’s plucky 121-ball knock contained 4 boundaries and a six.
With the 25-year old debutant, Ramesh Mendis slotted to bat next his inclusion looked encouraging in reposing faith in young blood following some noteworthy performances for the Sri Lanka A and Youth Team.
SRI LANKA 229/4 (87 Overs( RR): 2.63
(Angelo Mathews n.o. 107, Lahiru Thirimanne 43, Dinesh Chandimal 52, Niroshan Dickwella n.o. 19, James Anderson 3/24)