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mathews
World Test Championship

Bangladesh start strong after Mathews' 199 helps Sri Lanka to 397

BAN v SL, first Test, day two report

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Bangladesh ended day two on 76/0, trailing Sri Lanka by 321 runs as Angelo Mathews missed out on his double-century by a whisker.

Bangladesh after bowling out Sri Lanka on 397 in the final session of day two, started strong in their first innings as the two openers are unbeaten at the crease, with the score at 76/0. 

The story of the day was Mathews, who batted superbly to reach 199 and was the last man out just one run short of his double century.

While the Sri Lanka veteran would have loved to have brought up the big milestone, he was pleased to be able to contribute well with the bat.

"I just premeditated the shot," Mathews said. 

"I didn't connect it. It was one of those unfortunate incidents. 

"Obviously, it would have been nice to get that one run but you have to take what God gives you. 

"Getting that one run off the last ball with the last man, I wanted to get to the double hundred. 

"I miscalculated it, and unfortunately, Shakib caught it (laughs). 

"I am thankful that I was able to play a good knock. Hopefully it will help us win the game."

Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal carried the momentum forward for the visitors, batting for the major part of the first session on day two. Bangladesh pacers struggled with the new ball, which they had availed in the final session of day one. 

However, Mathews survived a close call on 119 when Khaled Ahmed managed to get an outside edge, only to remain unnoticed by both the bowler and the wicketkeeper. Mathews then collected some boundaries off the pacers and remained unbeaten on 147 in the morning session. 

At the other end, Chandimal too batted steadily and brought up his 21st Test half-century. Chandimal after the milestone attacked Taijul Islam to collect boundaries but his aggressive approach backfired as he saw himself getting out while reverse sweeping Nayeem. The off-spinner had him lbw on 66 and in the same over dismissed the new batter Niroshan Dickwella on 3. 

After a challenging morning session, Bangladesh clawed their way back into the game with two quick wickets shortly before the lunch break, exposing Sri Lanka's tail. New batter Ramesh Mendis (1*) and Mathews (147*) then took Sri Lanka to lunch on 327/6.

Post-lunch, Shakib Al Hasan scalped two wickets in the very first over of the session. The left-arm spinner first dismissed Ramesh Mendis on 1 and in the very next ball got Lasith Embuldeniya lbw for a duck.

Shortly afterwards, Mathews reached the 150-run mark and then built a crucial partnership with the new batter, Vishwa Fernando, ensuring Sri Lanka did not lose any more wickets in the afternoon session, heading to tea at 375/8. 

After the tea break, Mathews walked out into the middle with Asitha Fernando, as Vishwa Fernando was retired hurt owing to a blow on his helmet towards the end of the second session. After surviving a run out in the first over after tea, Asitha Fernando perished against a regular off-spin delivery off Nayeem. With the wicket of Asitha Fernando, the off-spinner completed his third Test five-wicket haul. 

Vishwa Fernando returned to the middle, with Mathews 8 runs short of his double century. With a boundary off Taijul, Mathews inched closer to his double century but the heartbreak moment came when he handed a simple catch off Nayeem to the square leg on 199. Nayeem with the wicket of Mathews registered his best-ever Test bowling figures of 6/105.

Mathews' brilliant knock of 199 was the second-highest score in the ICC World Test Championship 2021-23. 

The two Bangladesh openers, Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudul Hasan Joy got off to a strong start in the final session, adding 76 runs for the first wicket. The Sri Lankan bowlers failed to trouble the two batters, with both Tamim (35*) and Joy (31*) staying strong at the crease. Bangladesh will start day three trailing Sri Lanka by 321 runs. 

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