Angelo Mathews – A fire deep down
Angelo Mathews hadn’t had much of an outing with the bat in the first two ODI’s but the third game between India and Sri Lanka in Colombo proved to be different for him. About a month back, he smashed a crucial 80 in 76 deliveries to win his team a match against Pakistan. Today also he delivered a quick-fire innings to bolster his team to a match winning total.
Mathews came out to bat with the score on 141 for 3 and a little more than 20 overs to bat. It gave him enough time to settle down and then play some big shots later in his innings – a method he has preferred over the years.
Early in his innings he dabbed the ball around for singles against the spinners – Ashwin and Ojha. The spinners didn’t have a great day at the park. Although they weren’t smacked all around the ground, they lacked the ability to bowl dot balls and conceded too many free singles to both Sangakkara and Jayawardene. When Mathews came in, he did his part to exploit them in exactly the same way.
Mathews hit his first boundary in the 38th over, an inside out shot to a fast bowler, Dinda. He looked set to play the big shots but just then Sangakkara fell at the other end, leaving Mathews to make sure he played the innings through. His cut shot against Rahul Sharma which trickled over the deep point boundary was the shot that triggered the partnership between himself and Jeevan Mendis. Their partnership was one which would eventually change the course of the innings.
Mendis began to hit big shots against a death bowling unit which lacked the presence of Zaheer Khan (because he had just one over left in the final 10). Mathews on the other hand played the responsible innings of picking singles and rotating strike and eventually running them hard enough to get two. What began as a slow innings became a fifty of only 48 deliveries.
He stepped up the gas in the final few overs by thrashing Dinda and Zaheer through the cover boundary for fours of consecutive overs. He took the responsibility of playing the big shot when it mattered the most. Pathan wasn’t spared either. His delivery was handsomely driven straight down the ground. His best shot though came in the last over when Mathews picked the back-of-the-hand slower delivery from Dinda and smashed it over the straight boundary. His innings of 71 from 57 deliveries allowed Sri Lanka to post a good total of 286 after initially struggling at 20 for 3.
With Sangakkara out of the series with a fracture, Mathews might have to play more innings like this. He has certainly proved himself worthy of a place in the Sri Lankan team but there is still work to be done before he can become a cricketing superstar.