Ban vs SL, 2022 – 1st Test


Angelo Mathews at least had the sense of humour to deal with the heartache of getting out on 199 on the second day in Chattogram. He was in good spirits at the end-of-day press conference, speaking candidly about his misjudgment at that tantalising score, and shared a couple of laughs too.

Taking it lightly and being hopeful are probably one of the better ways to deal with such a situation. Despite being a visiting batter, the small crowd at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium waited for Mathews to reach his second double-hundred. Once he reached the 190s, it was only a case of staying on strike. He struck a four to move to 196, and took a quick two with a dab to third man to move to 199.

Next ball, the last of Nayeem Hasan’s over, the plan was to take the single that would take him to the landmark, but also keep him on strike for the next over as Sri Lanka were nine down. Mominul Haque brought in all the fielders. Nayeem floated one well outside off, which Mathews wafted at, and only inside-edged it to midwicket, where Shakib Al Hasan took an easy catch.

“I just premeditated the shot,” Mathews said. “I didn’t connect it. It was one of those unfortunate incidents. Obviously, it would have been nice to get that one run but you have to take what God gives you. Getting that one run off the last ball with the last man, I wanted to get to the double-hundred. I miscalculated it, and unfortunately, Shakib caught it (laughs). I am thankful that I was able to play a good knock. Hopefully it will help us win the game.”

Except that one run though, Mathews kept Sri Lanka’s innings together for nine hours and 38 minutes. Fighting oppressive heat and humidity, and quite accurate bowling from the Bangladesh spinners, he kept Sri Lanka on track with sizeable partnerships and got them out of trouble on three or four occasions too.

He was thankful for his fitness, which he has improved in the last couple of years. Chandika Hathurusingha, then Sri Lanka coach, had criticised Mathews’ fitness four years ago, even claiming that he had set a world record of getting his partner run out.

Mathews has since worked on his fitness under Mickey Arthur, and is known for an improved attitude towards fitness, diet and gym.

“I was exhausted, to be honest, especially in the heat. It was 42 degrees, boiling hot in the middle,” Mathews said. “But I knew that once I get a start, no matter what the situation and condition is, if I am set, I need to carry through.

“That’s why we do the fitness, etc, to play in extreme conditions. We are thankful to the trainers for pushing all of us. Whatever conditions you get, you have to perform to the best of your ability. Lot of work is being put behind the scenes by all the coaches.”

Mathews said that he expected other set batters to get big scores like him, whenever Sri Lanka get into these positions. “We have got a few seniors like Dimuth, Chandimal and Dickwella. Dhananjaya has played quite a lot of cricket too. The thinking among the batters is that whoever gets a start has to make it count.

“Yesterday and today were my days. Next time it will be another. Hopefully he carries us through. Whoever gets set, has to bat deep.”

Mathews believed that they came up a bit short with their first innings score, of 397, but said Bangladesh bowled well throughout the two days to keep them in the straight and narrow.

“It is a par score on this really good wicket. Bangladesh bowled extremely well. They didn’t give anything away. No freebies. They bowled to a line and length. They put us under a lot of pressure, made us work really hard for our runs.

“Nayeem got the ball to turn a little bit as well. Eventually they got the results. We lost a few quick wickets. We lost our way in the middle. I thought we were about 50-60 runs short. We wanted somewhere around 500 runs.”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84


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