Sri Lanka’s improved batting on day one of the second and final Test against England in Galle on Friday was led by a century from Angelo Mathews and is a sign the host has taken on board the heavy criticism of its display in the first Test.
Sri Lanka reached 229 for four at the close after electing to bat first, its total boosted by an unbeaten 107 from Mathews and 52 from captain Dinesh Chandimal.
It is a far cry from its woeful first innings score of 135 on the opening day of the first Test when poor shot selection and an ill-advised attempt at quick runs likely cost them the match as England claimed a seven-wicket win.
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Sri Lanka was much more cautious this time on a dry wicket that will crumble quickly under the hot sun and make chasing anything substantial in the fourth innings perilous for the tourist.
"We had to see through a few overs and get the ball slightly older to score some runs," Mathews told reporters at the close. "Credit must go to the England bowlers. It was hot and humid and they gave nothing away.
"They set a field that we could not score off easily. The fast bowlers had good line and length. We don’t know what a good score is, just as many as we can get."
Mathews scored 71 in Sri Lanka’s second innings in the first Test and says playing back-to-back games at the same venue has its advantages.
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"I got into a rhythm in the second innings of the first test, so I thought if I can get a start I’m not going to give it away," he said.
"I had to work extremely hard. They (England) gave us nothing, but we are 229 for four and we cannot give it away now."