Mathews becomes only sixth Sri Lankan to reach 100 Tests

GALLE, Sri Lanka (AP) — Angelo Mathews was one of the beneficiaries of Kumar Sangakkara’s youth surge in 2009 when he made his Test debut aged 22 in Galle against Pakistan.

Thirteen years later he will play in his 100th test.

It’s in the same place and against the same opponent. The second test between Sri Lanka and Pakistan begins on Sunday.

In the last two years, Mathews has lost his place in white ball cricket, but he was the leading batsman on the Test team. He produced back-to-back hundreds (199 and 145) to help Sri Lanka win a Test series in Bangladesh in May and is close to 7,000 Test runs.

“It would be nice to get to 10,000 test runs. Not many guys have been able to do that and that’s what I want to achieve,” said 35-year-old Mathews on Saturday.

“Jimmy Anderson is my inspiration,” he said of England’s record wicket-taker. “At the age of 40 he’s still delivering and he wants to do it for a few more years. It’s the drive you have. This won’t stop here and I’ve got a few years left. Age is just a number and I will work on my fitness.”

From an early age, Mathews made an impression. He played in two ICC World Under-19 Championships as captain of the 2006 edition and in his first major ICC event – ​​the 2009 World T20 Championship in England – he was the standout player as Sri Lanka finished second behind Pakistan.

Not just with his batting, but some great fielding efforts and decent spells with the ball, including three wickets in his first over in the semi-final game against the West Indies at The Oval, where all three batters were bowled.

It was not long before Mathews found his feet in international cricket and became a regular early in his career. A seam bowling all-rounder is someone that less-than-lucky Sri Lanka had been desperately looking for and the arrival of Mathews put an end to their worries.

Sri Lanka soon reached a purple spot. Between 2009 and 2014, the team reached four World Cup finals and won the T20 World Cup in 2014, beating India in the final in Dhaka.

Mathews was made captain at the age of 25, despite the fact that the team consisted of many experienced fighters.

Under his leadership, Sri Lanka reached new heights, winning a Twenty20 series in Australia in 2013 and beating England in a one-day international and Test series in their own backyard the following year. Mathews scored a Test hundred in his first appearance in the home of cricket at Lord’s and let a 160 win at Leeds to underpin his four-wicket draw. It was Sri Lanka’s first-ever win in a Test series in England.

Mathews was also Sri Lanka’s captain when they beat Australia 3-0 in a Test series in 2016. Shortly thereafter, he was struck by injuries. A series of hamstring, ankle and quadriceps injuries meant he was sidelined frequently. He resigned from captaincy in 2017 and focused solely on batting due to injuries.

Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne said he had known Mathews since 2003 “when we were students at St Joseph’s”.

“Something that has always inspired me was his passion for the game. He’s always a quick learner and has so much to offer,” said Karunaratne. “Hopefully we can make this a memorable game for him.”

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