|Scorecard:||England v Sri Lanka|
|Event:||Sri Lanka in Ireland and England 2014|
DateLine: 23rd June 2014
By Andy Jalil In association with INVESTEC
Leeds Ė In a match of numerous twists and turns, Angelo Mathews played a monumental captainís innings during an enthralling fourth day to put the second Test firmly in Sri Lankaís favour. By stumps England were struggling on 57 for five needing a further 293 to win which must now be very highly unlikely.
Their batting debacle was caused by an inspired spell of medium pace bowling by Dhammika Prasad, who came on as the third bowling change and put the England innings in tatters with four wickets for 11. The first two went on the score of 39 and the next two on 50 and 52.
In imperious form throughout his five hours at the crease, Mathews played with authority and swung the balance of play back in his teamís path just as England appeared to be coming back in control. His fourth Test century took him past his previous Test highest score of 157 not out by 3 runs.
Resuming their second innings on the overnight score of 214 for 4 and leading by 106, Sri Lanka began briskly scoring 54 at the rate of a run-a-minute before England broke the 92-run stand between Mahela Jayawardene and Mathews. Jayawardene had added 24 to his overnight score of 55 when he was dropped by Bell at gully off Stuart Broad. But it mattered little as in the next over he edged James Anderson from a loose drive.
Mathews meanwhile had brought up his fifteenth Test 50 and continued to pick up runs on the slow pitch which had flattened considerably. A six over square leg off Liam Plunkett took him to 64 and in the following over he hit two consecutive fours off Anderson, a straight drive of brutal force followed by a flick to leg.
While Mathews was scoring freely, Liam Plunkett had claimed two wickets in successive balls in his first over of a new spell. Dinesh Chandimal was held at deep square leg and Joe Root ran in at third man to take a forward diving catch from Prasad and that was 277 for seven. Thereafter, Mathews and Rangana Herath dominated the play.
Mathews who was on 79 at lunch took two fours in consecutive overs from Plunkett, and was dropped off the next ball when the bowler failed to hold a return catch. Just after the fifty of their stand, Mathews got into the nineties. Two more boundaries off Plunkett and Chris Jordan took him to 99 and then came a leap from him to celebrate his second century in successive Tests as he took a single to cover. It was his fourth hundred in Tests.
Herath was unfortunate to be run out for 48 on the stroke of tea when his partner set off and then almost halfway on the pitch he retreated with Herath stranded on 48. He had helped the captain in a brilliant 149-run stand lasting two-and-three-quarter hours to put Sri Lanka in the lead by 318 at the break.
Mathews added eleven to his tea score of 149 before England were relieved to see him hit a low full toss from Anderson into the hands of Ali at square leg. It had been a great innings during which he faced 249 balls, hitting 25 fours and a six and he had taken his teamís total to 437 for nine. The last wicket then added 20. Plunkett was again the pick of the bowlers taking four for 112 in addition to five for 64 in the first innings.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2014 Andy Jalil)