Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi, 4th day January 3, 2014

Mathews ton hands SL advantage


Sri Lanka 204 and 420 for 5 (Mathews 116*, Chandimal 89) lead Pakistan 383 by 241 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Angelo Mathews scored a career-best 116 to fashion a remarkable turnaround for Sri Lanka in the Abu Dhabi Test after they had conceded a 179-run lead to Pakistan in the first innings. He added 138 for the fifth wicket with Dinesh Chandimal, who missed out on his third Test century, and a further unbeaten 96 with Prasanna Jayawardene to transform a delicate situation on the fourth morning into, possibly, a match-winning one. Only thrice before have Pakistan been able to chase down a target in excess of 241, which is Sri Lanka's current lead.

The Pakistan bowlers managed a solitary wicket in the entire day and, for most parts, appeared innocuous with the pitch hardly providing assistance to the seamers or spinners. Saeed Ajmal's figures of 42-10-96-0 - the most overs he has bowled without picking up a wicket - highlighted the bowlers' misery.

Mathews, though, stayed compact throughout the day, and apart from a brief period against the new ball, was largely untroubled. Unlike his counterattacking 91 in the first innings, he kept the lid on his aggressive instincts, choosing the slow and steady approach. His half-century came off 113 deliveries. His next 50 took even longer as he slowed down as he neared his first Test century as captain, taking 24 balls to score his last four runs.

Mathews did pounce on loose deliveries, scoring a six and 11 fours, six of which came against Bilawal Bhatti. He was quick on the pull the moment the seamers pitched it short, but otherwise preferred playing in the V, with a few of his fours coming in the region between mid-on and midwicket. Along with Chandimal, he laid the foundation for Sri Lanka's revival.

Pakistan had assumed a dominant position on the third day after earning three wickets in the last session, and needed similar intensity today from Bhatti and Junaid Khan to restrict Sri Lanka's lead. They opened with the same pair in their search for quick wickets, but both bowlers lacked the zip that had brought them success the previous day.

That made Sri Lanka's job easier. Chandimal and Mathews collected 24 runs, without being troubled, in the 8.3 overs of Bhatti and Junaid's first spell. They defended solidly and mainly focused on turning the strike over, choosing only once each to stamp their authority with powerful pulls. The two bowlers had to eventually be pulled out of the attack by Misbah-ul-Haq to keep them ready for the second new ball. That gave Sri Lanka more breathing space.

They slightly upped the rate in the last 10 overs with the old ball to accumulate 39 runs as the three bowlers used in that block - Ajmal, Rahat Ali and Mohammad Hafeez - failed to create even a minor flutter. Chandimal reached his fifth Test half-century in the 79th over with a glance to the fine leg boundary, and Mathews smashed a six that illustrated the two batsmen's growing comfort.

Misbah asked for the new ball straightaway and pressed his two best bowlers - Junaid and Bhatti - into service. However, it didn't have the desired effect as Sri Lanka switched to a measured approach once more.

Chandimal stayed fluent, easily picking up singles and maintaining a strike rate of over 50 throughout his innings. In the first over after lunch, he used his feet to drive Ajmal to the cover boundary to register the partnership's century stand. In the next over though, bowled by Bhatti, Chandimal, on 71, was reprieved by Ahmed Shehzad at second slip after the fielder misread a thick edge which moved to the wrong direction. The relief on Shehzad's face was palpable when, 10 overs later, Chandimal was sucked in to a hook by Junaid to be caught at deep fine leg. He could only add 18 after being dropped and missed his third Test century by 11 runs, becoming Junaid's 50th Test victim in the process.

Pakistan had an opening after 47.3 overs of toil, but Mathews kept his focus and ensured Sri Lanka kept turning the wheel of fortune decisively towards them. Prasanna Jayawardene proved to be the ideal foil, handling Ajmal's variations with aplomb and keeping the seamers at bay with ease. By the end of the day, the two had batted for 39 overs, and are likely to push the match away from Pakistan's reach on the last day.

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 4, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    The more Pakistanis remain on field more tired they will get. Declare one hour before the lunch and take 2 wickets. We have whole one session to remove mishbah and Yonus and one more after tea-break to get the rest.

  • Sirio on January 4, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    Misbah has only himself to blame for including RAHAT ALI in the side. He has proved to be useless here. There is no venom there. Equally bad was not picking up Shan Masood, Rehman and letting go of fast bowler Ali. Also the whole team should be disciplined. Who asked them to get out so cheaply when they were going pretty good in their first innings. 75 more runs and the situation would have been different. Now SL will declare soon (may be past 300) and Pakistan has to Work hard to go for a Draw. Bad choice captain.

  • Rohan on January 4, 2014, 6:09 GMT

    @ priceless1 : Bro, I am sure you can make out by my comments, why I am following this forum. The intention is very much clear and very much in line with my earlier comment to GRVJPR. About Albert_cambell, I'll leave you with the below link that will take you to more of his comments and I hope what I said will make more sense to you.

  • Rohan on January 4, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    @ priceless1 : On that note I will give you the below link to follow more of his comments:

  • Rohan on January 4, 2014, 5:39 GMT

    @ Nuwas : And that my dear friend is how exactly how I have been feeling for the past 6 months (since CT2013), welcome on board!

  • Amila on January 4, 2014, 5:37 GMT

    @VKohlitheGreat going by your logic then one has to assume your either Pak fan or SL fan coz u too seem to be following the series very closely :D

  • Buddhika on January 4, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    Super Performance from Mathews.Great. And Good Performance from Chandi and Kaushal. But bad luck both could easily go to their Centuries. This batting prevent SL lost and may go to impossible win. Also this batting hurt not only Paks but 2 Declining Seniors Legend. Say "Now SL Cricket ours You Better Retired and Allow more youngsters to Play"

  • Nuwan on January 4, 2014, 5:31 GMT

    yeah,clearly SL batsmen are playing for their averages while in the team was in danger of getting limitted for quite a low score,they just played for their glory, didnt concentrated on getting the team out of the pit, just like that someonethegreat. I'm so disappointed the way they batted so far during the day 3&4 . On day 3 PAK lost their 6 wickets for less than 60 runs on this completely flat track in the morning session which is usually the session that has nothing for bowlers (specially not for our mediocre bowlers), but we lost only 4 wickets in two sessions on day 3 on that flat track for 100 odd runs when we had only a deficit of 170+ in the first innings. totally not cool guys, you should've taken it upto PAK & try to hammer them all over the park like a T20 or ODI , if not get bowled out for less than 174. I just don't get how you guys scored 200+ more runs with only a loss of 1 wicket on day 4 while the ball was swinging in the morning & kept low in eve. awful performance.

  • Janaka on January 4, 2014, 5:26 GMT

    @Nuwas: That's the best news I heard for a long time... So happy to hear that, and thank you! Awesome!

  • Rohan on January 4, 2014, 5:16 GMT

    @ GRVJPR : Dont mind Albert_cambell, he is a SL fan and it should not be hard for you to figure out why he is doing such a thing. @ Albert_cambell : If what I have said above is not true, allow me to compliment you since you have done well to follow a SL-Pak match and chose to reply to a comment of an Indian fan almost instantly..

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