By Srian Obeyesekere
Angelo Mathews struck a battling century to keep Sri Lanka’s hopes alive from the despair of 81 for 3 on the fourth and penultimate day of the first test that saw New Zealand on 28 for 1 wicket chasing 285 for victory at the Hagley Oval at Christchurch on Saturday. In what was the 35-year old veteran former Sri Lanka captain’s most decisive innings, Mathews rode his way to 115 off 235 balls filled with 11 boundaries in a watchful course of tremendous patience and concentration to notching his fourteenth test century.
Making a reappearance after close to one year having last featured against Pakistan on July 28, 2022, Mathews posted 105 for the fifth wicket with Dinesh Chandimal who made 42 off 107 inclusive of 2 boundaries after the dismissal of night watchman Prabath Jayasuriya for 6. Chandimal was out with the score on the stroke of 200 bowled by Tim Southee, the partnership having consumed 37.2 overs.
The advent of Dananjaya de Silva saw him further consolidate the innings as Sri Lanka reached 260 when Matthews’ tremendous innings came to an end when Matt Henry had him caught by Tom Blundell. Niroshan Dickwella lasted four balls becoming Henry’s second victim with wicket-keeper Blundell again snapping up the catch, but Dhananjaya de Silva continued to defy carrying his bat for an unbeaten 47 off 73 containing 7 boundaries with Kasun Rajitha once again contributing a lower order worth of 14 becoming Henry’s third victim leg before wicket but,taking Sri Lanka two short of 300 which Lahiru Kumara supplemented scoring 8.
Soon after pacer Kasun Rajitha struck an early blow for Sri Lanka when he caught and bowled Devon Conway for 5 having faced 15 balls as New Zealand lost the first wicket for 9 in 4.5 overs. New Zealand ended the day on 28 for 1 after 17 overs with next man in Kane Williamson fending off 39 deliveries for 7 and with him Tom Latham on 11 off 48.
CHIEF SCORES: Sri Lanka 355 & 302 (105.3 Overs) (Angelo Matthews 115, Dhananjaya de Silva n.o. 47, Dinesh Chandimal 42, Kasun Rajitha 14, Blair Tickner 4/100, Matt Henry 3/71, Tim Southee 2/57) New Zealand 373 & 28/1 (17 Overs) (Tom Latham n.o. 11, Kane Williamson n.o. 7, Kasun Rajitha 1/5)