GALLE: Angelo Mathews scored a patient unbeaten century on Friday to dig Sri Lanka out of some early peril and lead his side to 229 for four on the opening day of the second and final Test against England.
The home side won the toss and elected to bat at the Galle International Stadium, but a double strike from seamer James Anderson with the new ball had them teetering at seven for two.
Mathews then came to the crease and settled the innings with his 11th Test ton and first at Sri Lanka’s most iconic venue.
The former Sri Lanka captain will resume on the second morning on 107 not out, compiled from 228 balls with 11 fours, and will be joined at the wicket by wicket-keeper/batsman Niroshan Dickwella on 19.
Anderson produced early reward for England having replaced Stuart Broad in a rotation of the seam attack, the only change from their seven-wicket win in the first Test at the same venue.
Explosive opener Kusal Perera had a wild swing at a delivery outside off stump and was caught by England captain Joe Root high above his head at first slip for six.
Oshada Fernando (0), who came into the playing Xi for Kusal Mendis, lasted just four balls before edging a rising Anderson delivery that he could have left onto the wicket.
Mathews and opener Lahiru Thirimanne (43) put on 69 for the third wicket before the latter edged Anderson’s second ball after lunch to wicket-keeper Jos Buttler. Captain Dinesh Chandimal (52) added another 117 with Mathews before he was trapped leg before wicket by fast bowler Mark Wood, who managed to produce reverse swing early in the innings and toiled away for 17 overs and figures of 1-47.
England will be disappointed with some of the lines they bowled, particularly the spin duo of Dom Bess and Jack Leach, who conceded 120 in 40 overs and failed to create much in the way of chances.
Sri Lanka have handed a debut to spinning all-rounder Ramesh Mendis and also recalled leading seamer Suranga Lakmal, who missed their last three Tests — including two in South Africa — due to injury.
The tourists are seeking to notch a fifth away Test victory in a row for the first time since 1913. They travel to India for four matches immediately after this series.
SRI LANKA (1st Innings):
L. Thirimanne c Buttler b Anderson 43
M.D.K.J. Perera c Root b Anderson 6
B.O.P. Fernando b Anderson 0
A.D. Mathews not out 107
L.D. Chandimal lbw b Wood 52
N. Dickwella not out 19
EXTRAS (LB-2) 2
TOTAL: (for four wkts, 87 overs) 229
FALL OF WKTS: 1-7, 2-7, 3-76, 4-193.
TO BAT: W.T.R. Mendis, M.K.D. Perera, R.A.S. Lakmal, L. Embuldeniya, A.M. Fernando.
BOWLING (to-date): Anderson 19-10-24-3; Curran 11-2-36-0; Leach 22-3-66-0; Wood 17-2-47-1; Bess 18-1-54-0
ENGLAND: D.P. Sibley, Z. Crawley, J.M. Bairstow, J.E. Root, D.W. Lawrence, J.C. Buttler, S.M. Curran, D.M. Bess, M.A. Wood, M.J. Leach, J.M. Anderson..
UMPIRES: H.D.P.K. Dharmasena
(Sri Lanka) and R.S.A. Palliyaguruge
TV UMPIRE: L.E. Hannibal (Sri Lanka)
MATCH REFEREE: R.S. Madugalle
Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2021