Mathews hails fighting spirit

Sri Lanka's captain Angelo Mathews hailed his side's ability to keep fighting after they chased down 137 to win an attritional Test in Dubai

Mahela Jayawardene reads the paper, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Dubai, 5th day, January 12, 2014

Mahela Jaywardene will be able to read about a Test victory he helped to fashion  •  AFP

Sri Lanka's captain Angelo Mathews hailed his side's ability to keep fighting after they chased down 137 to win an attritional Test in Dubai in which the scoring rate in every innings failed to exceed three runs an over.
"That's what cricket is about - you need to keep fighting," Mathews said. "I thought we did exactly that in the first Test. We managed to draw the first one and hang in there. This was a wonderful victory by the help of the whole team.
"Our batters were brilliant. They didn't want to throw their wickets away and they kept fighting through those little phases where we get really put under pressure by the Pakistani bowlers. We constantly played well and won the difficult moments."
Prasanna Jayawardene and Mahela Jayawardene played important roles in the victory. Mahela had hit 126 in Sri Lanka's first innings, to help set up the victory, before Prasanna took five second-innings catches to equal Amal Silva's Sri Lanka record for nine dismissals in a match. Mathews lauded them both.
"They made a huge impact in the team. Prasanna has the best hands. There are four keepers in the team, but Prasanna is our No. 1. There's a good saying that class is permanent and form is just temporary and that's what Mahela showed us in this game. They are very senior players. They have a lot of ideas when it comes to the game and they're really great to have in the team."
Mathews also suggested he would prefer to keep the same XI for the final Test in Sharjah, providing the conditions allow it. Sri Lanka had four frontline bowling options in Dubai as well as Mathews' seam bowling, but did not possess a competent second spinner, resorting to Kumar Sangakkara's offspin on the fourth evening as light faded.
"When we go into a Test match we take our best bowlers, so if someone gets injured, we can't always bank on having a back-up. If we look at the batsmen, even if four of them are wicketkeepers, they have done their jobs. Unless the pitch is very different, I don't think we need to make any changes."
Mahela also sustained a split webbing in his left hand during the Test, but Mathews was confident he would play in Sharjah, although he is unlikely to take his usual place at slip.
The victory also brought up Mathews' first away win as captain in his first overseas Test series. "With help of the seniors and also the teammates, I learn day-by-day as a captain. My approach will always stay the same: I try to be as positive as I can and try to read the situations as quickly as I can."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here