Mathews Ton Helps Sri Lanka Labour To 229/4

Mathews Ton Helps Sri Lanka Labour To 229/4

23 January 2021 03:34 pm

2nd Test - Sri Lanka Vs England -  Galle - Day 1    

Sri Lanka seeking to win the 2nd Test and square the two test Daraz powered series against England, ended the day on 229 for 4 off 87 overs, in what could be best described as an opening day that saw two veterans, one from each side, demonstrate the perfect art of how test match cricket ought to be played with both bat and ball.

For Sri Lanka it was their veteran Angelo Mathews playing in his 88th test match, who demonstrated yet again in this series, that there are plenty of runs in the wicket if one was disciplined enough to apply themselves and stick it out in the heat.

Just like in the second innings of the 1st Test match, Angelo Mathews faced yet another 200 plus deliveries, to notch up a century, his 11th overall in test cricket and first recorded in Galle.

Angelo Mathews' knock steadied the Sri Lankan ship, which showed signs of another abysmal collapse at the start of the innings, when they lost two early wickets to be 7 for 2 in just the 5th over that had been bowled.

Incidentally it was exactly to the day that Mathews batted for over 10 hours in Harare to score his only registered double ton against Zimbabwe.

On the other hand it was James Anderson the England spearhead at the ripe old age of 38 years, who kept running into bowl on a track that offered him absolutely no assistance at all.

But class, discipline, dedication and commitment are attributes that have earned Jimmy Anderson over 600 test wickets over a 156 test match career, as he ran in ball after ball from the Galle Fort end and bowled a spell of fast bowling that would be remembered for a long time and also spoken about for years to come.

In his first spell, the second oldest fast bowler to take test wickets, Anderson removed Sri Lanka's opener Kusal Perera and one drop bat Oshadha Fernando within 17 deliveries he had sent down.

Kusal Perera's heroics of attempting to smoke Anderson over his head, over the Galle ramparts and into the sea, simply backfired, as his mighty heave only resulted in him edging the ball to first slip, where England's skipper Joe Root held on to a comfortable catch over his head.

Perera for a brief moment perhaps forgot that this was a test match and as his shot selection yet again proved to be his own nemesis in this series.

Oshadha Fernando was the next to succumb to Anderson, when he actually spent more time walking from the dressing room to the batting wicket and back, than the time he spent as a batsman at the crease.

Fernando who was brought in as a replacement for the struggling batsman Kusal Mendis, who had a miserable run in his last five innings, which also included four consecutive ducks.

However in a carbon copy type of performance, Fernando not only emulated the time that Mendis spent at the crease, but also registered a duck for himself too.

In only his fourth ball faced, Fernando playing a ball he should have left outside the off, got an inside edge to have his furniture rearranged.

This was Anderson's fifth tour of Sri Lanka and one he certainly would want to remember best.

He ended the day bowling the most economical spell of fast bowling 19-10-24-03 ever seen in a test match on a given day and that too was seen expressing his disappointment, when his penultimate ball was glanced by Dickwella for a four.

Anderson eventually ended the day doing what he does best and that was controlling the scoring rate, even though he did not get enough support from his two spinners who went wicketless bowling 40 overs between themselves.

Earlier after Chandimal won his second toss in a row in this series and decided to take first lease of the wicket, Sri Lanka was soon seen reeling after Anderson's double strike and looked certain of emulating their first innings performance in the first test.

Sri Lanka's hopes then rested on two of their seasoned cricketers who were then seen batting at the crease.

Opener Thirimanne a centurion from the first test and Angelo Mathews who also stroked a fine 71 in that game too, then took the home team to lunch for no further loss.

However in just the second ball after lunch Anderson, who kept bowling a tight line and length, had Thirimanne poking at a ball outside the off stump that he should have left alone to feather the thinnest of edges and be caught behind.

This was the 8th time in nine test matches that Anderson had got Thirimanne out with the batsman averaging just 4.3 runs, in every match that Anderson had played.

In walked skipper Dinesh Chandimal and got into his stride almost immediately. He hit three quick boundaries, one off spinner Bess through mid-wicket and then took two more boundaries off paceman Sam Curran in fine style.

The first was when he hit one of his classical cover drives and then flicked him to square leg, when the bowler drifted another onto his pads.

Chandimal who was batting well then received a ball that English paceman Mark Wood had been hoping to deliver this entire tour.

The in-swinger bowled at pace swung in to wrap Chandimal on the pads and eventually have him out LBW, soon after he had  reached his half century.

This was Mark Wood’s first wicket in this series.

The 107 run partnership between Chandimal and Mathews, lifted Sri Lanka's spirits and gave them a semblance of hope in reaching a decent first innings total.

But what Sri Lanka will be hoping for more, is for its wicket Keeper Niroshan Dickwella who is batting on 19 not out, to go on and achieve that elusive ton, despite playing 40 test matches and 72 innings over a seven year period since making his debut, when play resumes tomorrow.