Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 1st Test, Galle, 5th day August 10, 2014

Mathews puts chase down to faith

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Faith was all the explanation Angelo Mathews could give for a day in which the weather itself colluded with the hosts, who sped to a thrilling seven-wicket victory, to take the series lead in Galle.

Mathews was at the crease as a dark cloud moved above the stadium, threatening to halt Sri Lanka's chase either by unleashing rain, or by blocking the last rays of sunlight.

But as the cloud loomed closer, Mathews and Kithuruwan Vithanage lashed out to hit 17 runs off a Junaid Khan over, then seven off the first two balls of the following over to hit their target moments before rain came down in a torrent. Had they waited a few balls more to launch, the match would almost certainly have ended in a draw.

Five of Sri Lanka's last six Tests have gone down to the final minutes, and Mathews was visibly elated when he struck the winning run at Galle.

"With five overs left the umpires told us that this could be the final over because of bad light," Mathews said. "So I was praying that we would be able get the required runs and get across the line. We were determined to score the runs before the umpires called off play. Luck was with us, because soon after I scored the winning the runs, the rains came down. Everything went really well so we need to thank God for that.

"We had faith in ourselves. We kept fighting till the last ball was bowled. In those five Test matches it has gone down to the wire every single time, and we kept fighting and we kept believing in ourselves."

Mathew's said the victory had been of suitable excitement for Mahela Jayawardene's final Test in Galle, which has been among the two venues where Jayawardene has been particularly prolific. Jayawardene hit 2382 runs at an average of 70.05 on what has consistently been a result-pitch.

"The win is a tribute to Mahela. What a great player he is. The way Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela were sent off in the World T20 was amazing. Great players deserve to be sent off like that. Mahela has contributed so much to Sri Lankan cricket. We just want to thank him for all his support on behalf of the team. Hopefully we can do that in the next game, and also in the next few months, in the ODIs."

The match seemed headed for a draw, when Sri Lanka were still batting in the first innings late on day four. The hosts declared 82 runs ahead mostly in hope, but Rangana Herath had an outstanding final day, taking 6 for 48 to run through Pakistan.

"The match was going nowhere, to be honest. Yesterday when we reached their target and got a lead of 60-70, we just wanted to try bowling against the Pakistanis and to try and make a game out of it. Rangana is the main bowler in our line-up. In the last three tests he has bowled about 250 overs for us, so we are grateful to him for his commitment to the team."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on August 12, 2014, 5:55 GMT

    Sri lanka Made TEST Cricket Interesting

  • UglyIndian on August 11, 2014, 18:09 GMT

    If it was Dhoni's team chasing 99 in 21 overs, they would have reached 10/1 in 6 overs, and offered the opposing captain to call it a draw....

  • Quizzy on August 11, 2014, 15:16 GMT

    Simply impressive! Beginning with the declaration. Then we all saw the huge black cloud come over the ground threatening the outcome and as a SL fan, a silent wish and a prayer that it would pass was spontaneous. A prayer not of a Buddhist, Christian, Muslim or Hindu but as Sri Lankan. I believe at that very moment a million prayers were said together and prayers in unison create miracles. Regardless of religion, our faith in a higher power and faith in our team's ability to succeed is what took us over the line. After all.. God helps those who help themselves

  • LK-LadyCric on August 11, 2014, 14:48 GMT

    The man has faith. Nobody needs to judge him for that. It truly is a miracle what happened on the 5th day, so maybe there was something to it. For a man to profess his faith, it takes a lot of pluck. He's fearless in his faith and on the cricketing field. I commend him for that. So do another 21 million.

  • Brahams on August 11, 2014, 13:10 GMT

    God is on the side of the big battalions, Napoleon said once. This appears plausible in the cricketing context too.

  • MelbourneMiracle on August 11, 2014, 10:16 GMT

    You can't stop God being debated even in a sports forum..amazing! No wonder people call him Almighty!

  • CricketPissek on August 11, 2014, 9:24 GMT

    If Mathews prayed for some divine intervention and got the result he wanted. If that's what he believes, that's what he believes! Just because you don't agree with it doesn't makes his answer to a direct question any less valid. To me, the more important thing he said was "We had faith in ourselves". Let's just focus on that, shall we?

  • dummy4fb on August 11, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    Hats of to you Angelo for saying you prayed to God. Yes, we all have faith in God. As a Christian( RC) it is great to see you and a few other guys making the sign of the cross before play, before bowling or batting.Please don't be carried away with all what some people say,who have no hold of themselves. . Is there anyone who disagree to some players kissing the ground when they reach a land mark? Religion is your own freedom.My comment is for Sexysteven. There is nothing called luck it is just being blessed. Even a bad patch there is a reason for God to make you know there is something more to be done.

  • Rick777 on August 11, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    Wherever your are, whatever you do god exists in many different ways. It's the faith we have in God drives us further to do the impossible. There is nothing wrong in that. Well done boys.

  • Herath-UK on August 11, 2014, 6:01 GMT

    When you carry the can of a captain you should keep your personal feelings to yourself.Hope Mathews understand that,he is talking not as a person.

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