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Angelo Mathews second Test ton on the tour to England is one that may well find its place in history, writes Nishad Pai Vaidya.
Being Angelo Mathews is no easy task. Not only did he have to take over the reins of leadership from Mahela Jayawardene, but also had to lead a side featuring the biggest names of Sri Lanka cricket. Mathews, a man who is a decade junior to those stalwarts, took on the challenge head on and is gradually moulding a side that is poised to step into transition after the Jayawardene-Kumar Sangakkara era. On this tour to England, Mathews has done his bit to show that the future is in safe hands and Sri Lanka need not worry if the legends decide to call it a day a year down the line.
Even as a youngster, what stood out about Mathews was his temperament. He remained unfazed through all the pressure situations and inspired confidence with his calm approach to the task. It helped him in the initial stages of his career in the one-day format, where he also contributed with the ball. However, over the years, his bating came to the forefront and he has evolved into a more dependable batsman in the whites. From an all-rounder, he has evolved into one of their main batsmen.
Sri Lanka have had some success in England over the years, but they have also been eclipsed by some mediocre outings, the inexplicable collapse at Cardiff in 2011 being a case in point. Three years down the line, they had only two Tests to prove their mettle and the leader has risen to the occasion in both encounters. In the first Test, he smashed a ton in the first innings as Sri Lanka tried to level with England. However, his latest ton is one that could find its place in history.
At the beginning of Day Four, Sri Lanka were only 106 runs ahead and had lost four wickets. Jayawardene, the old war-horse, was in the middle eyeing a ton to set a good total. Mathews was almost eclipsed at the other end as most focused on Jayawardene. But, once the former captain fell on 79, it was all about Mathews and he has calmly guided the ship, in trademark fashion.
With Mathews’s 160 taking Sri Lanka to a good challenging score, this Test may bring back memories of the 2006 Nottingham game, where Muttiah Muralitharan helped spin the hosts out. Though they need someone to do that for them in the fourth innings, one can say that Mathews has done his bit.
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