|Second Test, Galle (day one)|
|Sri Lanka 229-4: Mathews 107, Chandimal 52; Anderson 3-24|
|England: Yet to bat|
Angelo Mathews ground out a century for Sri Lanka as England’s bowlers battled hard on the first day of the second Test in Galle.
The hosts were 7-2 when James Anderson claimed two early wickets, and 76-3 when the seamer struck after lunch.
But, on a flat pitch in gruelling heat, Mathews hit a measured 107 not out as Sri Lanka closed on 229-4.
Mathews put on 117 with captain Dinesh Chandimal, who made 52 before being trapped lbw by Mark Wood.
Niroshan Dickwella finished the day 19 not out with Sri Lanka in a position from which they will believe they can post a telling first-innings score.
However, England limited the scoring on a pitch offering little movement for their fast bowlers or turn for the spinners.
Anderson, brought into the team in place of Stuart Broad in England’s only change from their first-Test victory at the same venue, ended the day with exemplary figures of 19-10-24-3.
Quick wickets on day two would leave England in charge as they bid for a victory that would see them take the two-Test series 2-0.
Mathews grits it out for Sri Lanka
When Anderson dismissed Kusal Perera for six and Oshada Fernando for a duck in his third over, there were echoes of Sri Lanka’s dismal batting effort on the first day of the first Test.
Perera edged an inexplicably-rash drive to Joe Root at slip and Fernando, who has replaced out-of-form Kusal Mendis at number three, chopped a ball he could have left onto his stumps.
However, having come to the crease at 7-2, the experienced Mathews held firm – albeit on a surface easier for batting than on day one of the first Test.
Mathews, a veteran of 380 matches for Sri Lanka in an international career spanning more than 12 years, did not offer a chance and milked England’s spinners in a controlled knock.
The 33-year-old put on 69 with Lahiru Thirimanne before his century stand with Chandimal, which wore down England in a baking hot afternoon session.
While in the nineties he weathered an excellent spell from Wood and eventually brought up his 11th Test hundred, third against England and first at Galle.
Crucially, he survived seven overs with the new ball at the end of the day to give himself the chance to add more runs on day two.
Evergreen Anderson impresses again
Anderson was left out of England’s side for the first Test – Stuart Broad selected instead as England manage their two most experienced bowlers’ workload throughout the winter.
As a result, eight overs in an intra-squad warm-up match were the 38-year-old’s only overs since the third Pakistan Test in August.
After play he said we was “pretty nervous”, both as a result of the break and to be replacing Broad who excelled in the first Test. It did not show.
Anderson probed the batsmen’s technique throughout and made the most of the minimal movement on offer, like when left-hander Thirmanne nicked the second ball after lunch which slightly moved away off the seam.
He and Broad now have combined figures of 6-58 from 45 overs with 24 maidens across the three innings, in conditions supposedly to their disadvantage.
With spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach largely ineffective it was the extra pace of Wood that backed up Anderson.
Early in the day he unsettled the batsmen – he hit Chandimal on the grille with a bouncer – and an energy-sapping spell of eight overs after tea gave his side the breakthrough they required.
He bowled fast, found a hint of reverse swing and trapped Chandimal in front with a ball delivered from wide of the crease.
Wood’s relief was clear in his celebration as he held his arms wide and looked to the sky, having bowled 38.5 wicketless overs to that point in the series.
‘Sri Lanka have just edged the day’ – reaction
England bowler James Anderson on Test Match Special: “As a group, the seam bowlers in particular, we put in the hard yards today. To keep them down to 230 on a flat wicket is good, we’re in the game, but we’ve got to bowl well tomorrow when we come back.”
Sri Lanka batsman Angelo Mathews: “I got into a rhythm in the second innings of the first Test [he scored 71 from 219 balls], so I thought ‘if I can get a start I’m not going to give it away’.
“I had to work extremely hard. They gave us nothing, but we are 229-4 and we cannot give it away now.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “For me, Sri Lanka have just edged the day, because they’ve got runs on the board.
“Runs on the board are going to be absolutely crucial. Anything over 350 will be very difficult for the England team, but they’ve kept chipping away nicely.”
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