Angelo Mathews produced a superhuman hundred to frustrate India’s march to their first series victory in Sri Lanka after 22 years. The Lankan skipper scored his seventh Test hundred and his second against India at Colombo’s Sinhalese Sports Club. And it could not have been better timed. (Day 5 live updates | Scorecard)
The odds were stacked against Sri Lanka at the start of Day 5 when they were 67/3, still needing 319 runs for an improbable victory. Their cause was not helped by the dismissals of Kaushal Silva and Lahiru Thirimanne to poor shots. However, like a rock, Mathews calmly weathered a stormy spell from Ishant Sharma.
Mathews completed a terrific century in the post-lunch session. It came off 217 balls and was studded with 12 boundaries. The young skipper had great support at the other end. Debutant Kusal Perera scored back-to-back fifties as the sixth wicket produced 126 priceless runs when Mathews scored his ton. Sri Lanka were 233 for 5, needing another 145 for a sensational victory.
Twenty-eight-year-old Mathews played the ball on merit and negotiated India’s spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Mishra admirably. The pitch had slowed down considerably and whatever spin that was generated was slow.
Mathews, along with Perera, began the tough task of ensuring the hosts remained afloat. Over by over, Mathews grew in confidence and did not take any risks. The end result was a fantastic hundred which gave Sri Lanka hope.
This is not the first time Mathews had contributed when the chips are down. In the second Test against England at Leeds, he had smashed a magnificent, unbeaten 160 to give Sri Lanka a memorable win.
In the fourth innings, he has averaged over 84, indicating his ability to contribute under pressure. This was his first hundred in the fourth innings and if Sri Lanka salvage a draw in this match where India have dominated almost every session, this could be Mathews’ greatest hundred ever.