An unbeaten hundred by Angelo Mathews helped Sri Lanka to 229-4 at stumps Friday on the first day of the second test against England.
Mathews came in to bat at 7-2 after James Anderson had dismissed both Kusal Perera (6) and Oshada Fernando (0) in the morning session.
The former Sri Lanka captain was then tested by a probing spell of fast bowling by Mark Wood, who had him in trouble with a couple of short deliveries. Wood was constantly bowling to Mathews on middle and leg-stump with a leg-gully in place expecting the batsman to flick one.
Mathews did not take the bait but a bouncer struck his glove and landed where there was no fielder before crossing the boundary rope. That brought up Mathews’ half-century.
“We lost the openers early unfortunately and we just had to see through a few overs and get the ball slightly older and look for runs,” Mathews said. “Scoring runs was tough although the wicket was flat. England were on the money not giving away too many loose balls.”
Lahiru Thirimanne gave solid support to Mathews. Sri Lanka added 69 runs for the third wicket before Anderson struck in the second ball after lunch as Thirimanne nicked one to the wicketkeeper.
Stand-in captain Dinesh Chandimal then joined Mathews and the duo produced a 117-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Wood was persisting with some high quality fast bowling on a flat wicket where there was hardly any assistance for the seam bowlers. He had Chandimal in trouble with a bouncer that hit the batsman on the head.
His perseverance paid off when he trapped Chandimal leg before wicket. The batsman, who made 52 for his 20th half-century, unsuccessfully reviewed the decision.
“It was hard work bowling out there,” Wood said. “This pith was tougher than the last one. We knew it was going to be harder. They played well and it didn’t spin as much as it did in the first test. We intend to make early inroads tomorrow morning.”
Mathews, who missed Sri Lanka’s recent tour of South Africa with a hamstring injury, reached his 11th test hundred and the third against England with a single off Jack Leach to point region. It was his first test hundred in Galle, a venue where he had made his test debut 12 years ago.
England took the new ball soon after it was available but weren’t able to make the breakthrough as Niroshan Dickwella and Mathews were involved in an unfinished 36 run stand for the fifth wicket.
The Sri Lankan wicketkeeper has been promoted to sixth in this series and is under fire after a string of rash strokes brought about his dismissal in recent tests. Anderson finished with 3-24. Ten of his 19 overs were maidens.